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Island Water World in Cole Bay (File photo) 

PHILIPSBURG--Diandro Martina, Thuram Prince, Alex Louis received prison time for their involvement in the robbery at Island Water World in Cole Bay on May 16. They were sentenced by the Court of First Instance on Wednesday morning. Delongio Webster was acquitted for his alleged part in the robbery.

  Diandro Martina received 40 months in prison of which 10 months suspended. The court considered it proven that the 21-year-old was one of the three robbers who stormed into Island Water World and threatened workers and took US $2500 and two cell phones from the store.

  Martina also left documents from employment agency Labor Experts in a bag found with the name of a worker Martina met days before the robbery. Martina claimed that the bag was stolen months before the robbery. The robbers acted like professionals during the robbery, ordered the employees and clients at gunpoint to lie on the ground and keep quiet, and fled in a white Toyota Yaris with cash and two cell phones.

  Thuram Prince received 38 months of which 10 months suspended. He was only 17 years old when the armed robbery was committed but was sentenced by the court as adult in light of the seriousness of the crime. The prosecution had originally requested four years in jail for both Martina and Prince.

  Alex Louis was found guilty of complicity to armed robbery and got a 30-month sentence of which six months suspended. The prosecutor had asked for a two and a half year sentence against the 20-year-old.

  Delongio Webster was acquitted of all charges against him. The prosecutor had asked for 4 years jail in his case.

  The guilty parties have two weeks to appeal the judge’s decision if they want to appeal.  

PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST FOR ST. MAARTEN

DATE ISSUED: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 @ 12:00 LST (16:00 UTC)

VALID UNTIL: Thursday midday (12:00 LST) December 08, 2016

WEATHER: 

This afternoon: Partly cloudy, becoming cloudy at times with isolated showers possible.

Tonight through Thursday midday: Partly cloudy with a passing shower possible.

Forecast High: 30°C / 86°F             Forecast Low: 26°C / 79°F

Sunset Today:  5:37 P.M.                Sunrise Tomorrow: 6:32 A.M.

SURFACE WINDS: 
This afternoon through Thursday midday: East-northeasterly with a gentle to moderate breeze of 08 to 17 mph.

SYNOPSIS: 

The Atlantic high pressure system will maintain mostly moderate winds across the local area. Patches of low level clouds embedded in that flow may cause some showers during this forecast period.

Seas are expected to peak near 6 feet for the next few days.

STATE OF THE SEA: Slight to Moderate        WAVES/SWELLS: 4 to 6 feet

SPECIAL FEATURE: None.

OUTLOOK through Friday midday: Fair to partly cloudy with a passing shower possible.

FORECASTER:  Albert

The next weather forecast will be issued today at 18:00 LST (22:00 UTC).

 

For further information visit our website: www.meteosxm.com.

The famous US presidential campaign line “read my lips, no new taxes” no longer applies to Finance Minister Richard Gibson after he announced plans for a departure tax at the airport and ferry landings (see related story). The income-generating measure is to produce 9 million Antillean guilders on an annual basis.

For travellers by plane the proposed levy comes in addition to Princess Juliana International Airport SXM accommodations fees said to total US $36 on international flights. Any increase in cost to visitors who drive the local tourism economy should obviously be handled with great care, but NAf. 10 (US $6) per person is probably not going to keep anyone away, certainly when compared to other destinations in the region, including Anguilla which reportedly charges US $30 on top of its airport fee.

Important is that introducing the proposed tax does not create yet another bureaucratic layer that leads to more nuisance and congestion for passengers. This means it must be either incorporated into the existing fee structure or have a highly efficient collection method that won’t delay the process.

True, NAf. 9 million may seem like a drop in the bucket considering Government’s current financial challenges, but one has to start somewhere. A reasonably-priced mandatory driver’s licence and moderate excises or higher turnover tax rates on now ridiculously cheap alcohol and tobacco products are also realistic options, because in the end it all adds up.

The picture of St. Maarten’s economy painted by Finance Minister Richard Gibson during Monday’s Central Committee of Parliament meeting on the draft 2017 budget (see related story) isn’t exactly a pretty one. The loss of two cruise lines alone cost the country 90 million Antillean guilders on an annual basis while more purchases online are eroding Government revenues, particularly the turnover tax.

He spoke of a steep decline in income that despite measures to limit spending will probably lead to a shortfall of NAf. 25 million at the end of this year. Efforts are still being made to come up with more funds to prevent this financing deficit.

Also mentioned were GEBE’s inability “to keep the lights on and cool the rooms of tourists,” traffic moving “at the pace of molasses,” a telephone system that is “not up to modern-day standards” and the move by major resorts to all-inclusive properties which is “depressing businesses that feed off guests” on the island.

Not everybody will be happy about it in already difficult circumstances, but upgrading the Tax Department to improve collection is a logical step. It’s a public secret that way too much money currently “stays on the street” instead of finding its way to the national treasury as prescribed by law.

Fiscal compliance remains a big issue. Not only does it undermine Government’s task to provide a reasonable level of community services and provisions, but it allows unfair competition and honest entrepreneurs suffering negative consequences for doing things correctly.

The best way to tackle the current downturn is with incentives that strengthen the tourism economy. Part of this can be done through private sector initiatives such as the huge Pearl of China project and the Rainforest Adventure Park with its potential to become a major visitor attraction especially for cruise passengers.

However, the public sector too has a crucial role to play by creating the necessary conditions to stimulate sustainable growth, including adequately promoting and marketing the destination. It’s clear that hard choices need to be made and priorities set, but then, nobody said it would be easy.

PARAMARIBO--Suriname is in uproar over the arrests late last week of a band of men who, according to police, have been preying on young boys, infecting some of them with HIV.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad--Leading Trinidad and Tobago rum manufacturer Angostura is facing possible sanctions after the company’s Board of Directors uncovered “illegal” practices that raise serious doubt about the integrity of its rum products.

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Samsung in its big-money smartphone patent fight with Apple, throwing out an appeals court ruling that said the South Korean company had to pay a $399 million penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs. The justices in their 8-0 ruling sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

LONDON--Many carmakers are predicting a significant shift to electric vehicles in the next decade. Advances in battery technology and the growth of autonomous driving and ride sharing - suited to electric vehicles - will power this expansion, they reason.

LOS ANGELES--Beyonce got a leading nine Grammy nominations on Tuesday, followed by Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West with eight nods each, as pop, R&B and hip hop took center stage in the contest for the music industry's highest honors.

SAN FRANCISCO--You don't have to be a "Star Wars" super fan to see the first spin-off movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," says director Gareth Edwards, but he's hoping the film will light a passion for the franchise in any newcomers.

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK--U.S. President-elect Donald Trump urged the government on Tuesday to cancel an order with Boeing Co for a revamped Air Force One - one of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. presidency - saying costs were out of control.

WASHINGTON--Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a rival-turned-supporter of Donald Trump, overcame his stated qualms about a lack of government experience on Monday to accept the president-elect's nomination to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

BRUSSELS--The European Union's chief negotiator set a target of agreeing a Brexit deal with Britain by October 2018, assuming London keeps a promise to formally launch the process of leaving the EU by the end of March.

PARIS--French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday appointed Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as prime minister until a new president is elected next May.
  The appointment followed the resignation of Manuel Valls, who quit to run for president after Hollande himself decided against seeking a second term.

MUNICH-- Robert Lewandowski scored a brilliant free kick to give Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in their last Champions League Group D outing on Tuesday, ending the 100 percent record of their opponents.

CALIFORNIA- - Klay Thompson remembers the night Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006.
  Thompson, a teenager growing up in Los Angeles as the son of an NBA player, was offered tickets to the game. He opted not to go.

In memory of the Late Henri (aka Maurice) Cannegieter (1943-2016)

Dear Editor,

In his smooth and insightful introduction to the Hamilton White House performance on March 14, 2016, President Obama stated: “Hamilton is not just for people who can score a ticket to a pricey Broadway show. It is a story for all of us and about all of us.”

The President was addressing folks in the United States. We must take him at his word for most of us have not seen, will not see the show on Broadway but the reviews have been very positive, in keeping with the President’s assessment. Fortunately, there are recordings of the show and more importantly, there is the book that inspired it. It is therefore truly regrettable that this show has elicited, is eliciting, such a crass display of partisanship in commentary online.

Having recently read the book that inspired the musical I venture that it would not have received the kind of attention it deserves and is getting were it not for the show. I, for one, would not have read this biography published in 2004 were it not for the commotion surrounding the musical. The book is about the vital role played by Alexander Hamilton, a young West Indian genius, in the founding of the United States. It is about Caribbean history as it relates to Hamilton’s indispensable contribution. No wonder young Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Puerto Rican descent) was so moved by this biography.

Chernow’s peers are unanimous: his book is a magisterial reassessment of Hamilton’s legacy. Indeed it is a brilliant accounting of a past that, like all pasts, never passes completely, even when one tries to repress it, to suppress it or to rub it out completely. “Violence was commonplace in Nevis, as in all the slave-ridden sugar islands [...] All of the horror was mingled incongruously with the natural beauty of turquoise waters, flaming sunsets and languid palm fronds” (Chernow, 2005:19). Instructive and edifying accounts: true stories about us and others, and about us as others.

This biography and the musical it inspired, though separated in time, are inextricably linked. The book was published in 2004. Eleven years later, in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical opened off Broadway. But before this providential twosome, there was the young man from St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Croix; with family roots in Europe, and all over the Caribbean. The book tells the story of the young clerk who sailed away from the islands for the North American Colonies; away from a past that would never really past. Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton is an awesome garden, sad and splendid, full of gut-wrenching flowers; his scholarship and writing are the envy of all scribblers like us.

In New York, he got a first class education “partly underwritten by sugarcane harvested by slaves” (p.41). He toiled, loved, fought and feuded. He made it big, very big, but he could not fit in tout à fait, completely; he was too different. “He had expressed an unwavering belief in the genetic equality of blacks and whites – unlike Jefferson, for instance, who regarded blacks as innately inferior – that was enlightened for his day. And he knew this from his from his personal boyhood experience” (p. 210).

Hamilton is about all of us because of his race – because of the human chattel of his ancestors: “No less than in Nevis, slavery was all-pervasive on St. Croix – it was ‘the source from which every citizen obtains his daily bread and his wealth,’ [...] – with 12 blacks for every white [...] So extensive was the sexual contact between whites and blacks [on St. Croix] that local church registers were thickly sprinkled with entries for illegitimate mulatto children” (p.23). These accounts sound very much like the history of Saint Martin (French and Dutch), but we don’t write or talk about ours much, and that may not be healthy.

In a chapter entitled “Hurricane,” the disaster that struck St. Croix and other islands in August 1772, I came upon a name I recognized from the writings of Senator Will Johnson of Saba. Here is that gem in Chernow’s book: “Ordained by [Aaron] Burr in 1755, [Rev. Hugh] Knox decided to propagate the gospel and was sent to Saba in the Dutch West Indies [...] Knox left a bleak picture of the heedless sinners he was assigned to save” (p.35). The “picture” of those “keepers of negro wenches” is bleak indeed! I will refrain from quoting Knox’s description of that flock of unheeding sinners he left behind in “the Bottom,” rather I will suggest that the United States of America is, forever, deeply indebted to Sabans!

According to Chernow, the Rev. Knox was more than happy to climb up and out of “The Bottom,” when he moved on to St. Croix. There, he tutored young Hamilton and played a key role in the life of one of the future revolutionaries and Founding Fathers of the USA.

As for the Aaron Burr who had ordained Hugh Knox before he left for Saba, that gentleman was none other than the president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton): the father of the Aaron Burr who would mortally wound Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804.

I could go on for hours clipping flowers in Mr. Chernow’s awesome garden: yellow bells and hibiscuses; tropical lilies and Bougainville flowers; orchids of all colours; and lots, lots of arrows: the arrows of sugarcane that aim at the Heavens as if to reproach them of something. I could go on snipping lots of other handsome flowers to try and persuade my reader of the treasure-trove in Chernow’s magnificent garden; all in an effort to convey a sense of adventure; of discovery; of commonality, community and identity.

Gérard M. Hunt

Dear Queenie,

I am afraid of birds, even small ones, and they are all over the place in St. Maarten. I know this is silly, but I am still scared every time one comes near me.

Queenie, how can I get over this?—Ornithophobe

Dear Ornithophobe,

Professional counselling might help you understand why you have this phobia. Some incident in your childhood may have triggered it.

Meanwhile, whenever a bird frightens you, try yellin at it. Getting angry may help you be less afraid, and the birds will usually fly away when you shout at them. Also, seeing that they are afraid of you also could help you become less afraid of them

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