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PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher symbolically “broke ground” on the Back Street project Saturday.

Some LED lights have been installed on the Government Administration Building on Pond Island. The lights project has a price tag of NAf. 225,000.

Today’s news that Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Mellisa Arrindell-Doncher kicked off the Back Street project will no doubt be welcomed by merchants, residents and motorists alike. Especially those who frequent the street such as bus drivers had been complaining about its poor state for some time, although emergency repairs were made not too long ago.

It’s actually the second time ground has been broken, so people are hoping that on this occasion the much-needed renovation of the road surface will really take place. A few doubts have been expressed about the way bricks were originally laid there and the constant potholes caused by rain and the shifting beach sand below.

Observers say a better foundation could have prevented or at least minimised the recurring problem. However, all that is now proverbial water under the bridge, as the road will be paved and the drainage regulated to solve the issue once and for all.

It was also stated that the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI has made it possible for homeowners and businesses to connect sewage lines at their own expense while the work is being done. That sounds alright, but one can’t help but wonder whether they won’t be discouraged from doing so by making them pay for it.

As a matter of fact, that is said to have been one of the reasons many buildings weren’t added when the central sewage system was first laid in Philipsburg and connected to the treatment plant on Illidge Road. Of course, these structures must all still have cesspools that function well if regularly emptied and maintained, but if that’s not the case the result is often dirty water running in the streets of the downtown shopping area at the expense of the general public, including visitors who fuel the local tourism economy.

Considering the environmental aspect, ideal would be for everyone in reach of sewer lines to be connected free of charge. That may seem like wishful thinking, but the ultimate goal should be for less raw sewage to end up in the ground or worse.

Dutch Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk told the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague that Francesco Corallo may not be extradited to Italy until mid-2018 (see related story). That seems like a rather long time, but apparently full procedure needs to be followed because the European extradition regulation doesn’t apply to St. Maarten.

If so, the question could justifiably be asked whether the local casino boss has to remain in custody until then. What he is allegedly wanted for by Italian authorities certainly seems serious enough and crime should definitely not pay, but having spent more than four months locked up already, one can’t help but wonder whether his continued incarceration is really necessary.

After all, staying detained for such an extended period without actually going to trial is fairly rare. Even suspects have rights as established, among others, by the Treaty of Rome.

In addition, the circumstances under which he is reportedly kept in the police cells are said to be far from ideal. Continuing to hold him in those conditions for another year or more is probably not a very reasonable option.

The extradition hearing is now scheduled for May 16 and ought to provide some clarity on the case. Plasterk was, of course, assuming that an appeal will be filed if the extradition is approved, which also means that Corallo could speed up things by not doing so.

However, all defendants must be afforded the opportunity to make use of whatever legal recourse is available to them and are hardly to blame for that. Perhaps some type of house arrest, possibly with an ankle bracelet and restrictions regarding contact with others, is a more suitable, humane alternative.

FLORIDA, United States--A major cruise line with ships that call in the Caribbean will have to pay a US $40 million penalty – the largest ever for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution.

KINGSTON, Jamaica--A luxury resort in the popular tourist area of Montego Bay is closed for the time being, as an investigation is carried out to determine what caused a blast that claimed the life of an employee and left four others injured.

WASHINGTON--International Monetary Fund members on Saturday dropped a pledge to fight protectionism amid a split over trade policy and turned their attention to another looming threat to global economic integration: the first round of France's presidential election.

MILAN--British Telecom has filed a criminal complaint with Italian prosecutors over an accounting scandal at its Italian unit and has handed them computer records and also dispatched its head of compliance to Milan to give evidence.

NEW YORK--Television journalist Alisyn Camerota said on Sunday she was a target of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes when she worked at Fox News, joining other former colleagues at the cable channel who have accused their ex-boss of inappropriate behaviour.

NEW YORK--Hillary Clinton, who until recently had avoided the spotlight in the wake of her election defeat in November, made a surprise appearance at New York's Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday as a panelist to discuss illegal elephant poaching.

WASHINGTON--President Donald Trump put pressure on Democrats on Sunday as U.S. lawmakers worked to avoid a government shutdown, saying Obamacare would die without a cash infusion the White House has offered in exchange for their agreement to fund his border wall.

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO--Tens of thousands of people turned out in cities across the United States and beyond on Saturday for Earth Day events billed as a "celebration of science" to counter what organizers say is a growing disregard for evidence-based knowledge in Washington.

KABUL--Eight days after the U.S. military dropped its largest ever conventional bomb on suspected Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan, Taliban militants breached an army base in the north of the country and killed scores of local soldiers.
  To Afghan and other critics of President Donald Trump's apparent indecision over how to win a seemingly intractable war, Friday's assault - the worse of its kind since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 - was evidence he was getting it wrong.

PARIS/HENIN-BEAUMONT, France--Centrist Emmanuel Macron took a big step towards the French presidency on Sunday by winning the first round of voting and qualifying for a May 7 runoff alongside far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
  Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, new opinion polls on Sunday had him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

 CAY HILL-- As from April 21, the National Sports Institute (NSI) merged with the Foundation Upkeep Sports Facilities (FUSF). After a process of about three years the NSI has finally taken over all tasks and responsibilities of FUSF, that after almost 17 years ceased to exist. The signing took place at Notary Boekhoudt’s Office on April 20, 2017.

St. Maarten was represented by four athletes from the St. Maarten Bodybuilding & Fitness Association at the 5th Annual La Severine Fitness Bodybuilding & Fitness Invitational held on Anguilla on Saturday.  Ramy Quettant competed in the Male Physique Tall Class. This was his third competition.  New to the association is Dylan aka Angus Daniel who also competed in the Male Physique Tall Class. Touching the stage for the very first time was Jeanrony Virgile in the Male Physique but in the short class. The lone female in the group was Anais Pieters Kwiers. In her previous competitions Kwiers competed in the Body Fitness Category. Saturday she made her debut in the Bikini Wellness Category.

Dear Editor,

Closed down, victim of a possibly outdated, easily circumvented Government policy on vending licenses. That policy states (and I am paraphrasing) that vending licenses can only be issued to unemployed persons, who have no other means of income. Capt. Dino does have a day job. But I suggest we do not go down that road.... how many persons with a day job, including Commissioners (when we were the Government) and now Parliamentarians, civil servants and other holders of jobs in the public, as well as private sectors did and do not also hold taxi, bus and/or other permits that are supposed to only be issued to persons with no other means of income?

I know, two wrongs do not make a right... But Capt. Dino in his latest FB rant has a point. Why should he and his wife, two local St. Maarteners, have to jump through hoops to show their ambition, their good intentions, their entrepreneurial spirit here on their own soil? Dino and his wife are ambitious.

They are as local as can be. They have been allowed to operate their shack for the past several years now. Their Chicken Shack has grown to be a favourite hangout for locals, as well as tourists. They offer an excellent F&B product. Taking into consideration how difficult it is for locals to get financing from our local financial institutions, thanks to Capt. Dino's day job salary, he was able to start up and grow their now well-known Simpson Bay parking lot local/tourist hang out, thereby contributing in a positive way to our economy in general and our tourism in particular.

Do I believe it could use some sprucing up and made to look more presentable for the area it is in? The answer is yes. Do I believe they should not turn the newly-constructed public parking lot on the Simpson Bay strip into an uncontrolled-growth, open-air restaurant without running water and properly operating bathroom facilities? The answer is yes. Do I believe our present and subsequent governments could at times look at individual circumstances and ensure that well-intentioned local St. Maarteners, especially those with a positive personal track record, are not hurt by policies that, with all due respect, should have been put in place to protect, rather than hinder and fight local citizens? The answer here again is yes!

So, I implore the powers that are, to find a solution, if need be, by thinking and acting "outside of the proverbial box" to allow Dino and his wife to re-open Dino's Chicken Shack on the Simpson Bay public parking lot. Their ribs are DA BOMB!!

Michael J. Ferrier

Dear Queenie,

I’ve been offered a terrific job on another island and my wife and I have decided it is too good to pass up and we are going to make the move.

The problem is my wife’s sister. She insists that we are going to ruin her life and if we leave she will have nothing to do with us ever again. Her angry attitude has my wife terribly upset and I am afraid they will be permanently estranged.

Queenie, have I ruined my wife’s relationship with her sister? What should I do?—Worried husband

Dear Husband,

You have not ruined this relationship. Your sister-in-law is solely responsible for that and if you give in to her now she will be trying to run your lives forever.

You and your wife should do what is best for the two of you. Your sister-in-law can learn to like it (or at least live with it) or “lump it.”

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