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PHILIPSBURG--The United St. Maarten Party (US Party) continued its launch campaign and rolled out another four candidates who will be on its list come September 26. Party leader Frans Richardson introduced Delphine Agnes Brooks Mardenborough, Franklin de Windt, Jelen Coulanges and Lyndon Lewis to members of the media at the party’s headquarters.

PHILIPSBURG--Residents dropping off or picking up passengers at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM are furious about a coned-off section outside the terminal building.

The Law Enforcement Council confirms in today’s paper what was already clear: St. Maarten is simply not equipped to adequately handle drug addicts and people with mental disorders who come into contact with the police.

The Turning Point rehab shelter and Mental Health Foundation (MHF) do what they can, while in the case of youngsters the Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Centre may be an option. However, none of these is really geared towards this particular group that demands detention with special attention, so requirements for such are unfortunately not being met.

The result in practice is that the persons concerned are often at risk of becoming repeat offenders and ending up in a revolving-door prison situation, with all consequences for themselves and the entire community. Moreover, the problem indirectly adds to an already heavy burden of the Justice system.

Of course, funds will be needed for both personnel and proper facilities to effectively tackle this shortcoming. Still, any money to be spent that way could be considered a worthwhile investment that is likely to pay off in terms of lessening the negative impact on society and the tourism economy, but also by helping to reduce the loss of valuable time and energy as well as frustration among authorities, so they can better concentrate on doing the job for which they’re actually trained and qualified.  

The People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) led by Gracita Arrindell has suggested a 2.5 per cent real estate tax and a flat income tax of 10 per cent (see related story). Not everyone may agree, but at least the party has come out with some concrete proposals.

United St. Maarten party (USp) leader Frans Richardson too commented on the issue

CASTRIES, St. Lucia--Across the Caribbean, policymakers rely heavily on the availability of timely, accurate and reliable poverty data to support national and regional development initiatives. Despite making considerable progress on how they measure poverty, many countries in the Region do not frequently update or report on key poverty indicators, and are not able to assess the non-income dimensions of poverty and human development.

KINGSTON, Jamaica--The country’s outdated adoption laws and the devastating effects on the lives of children in need of stable homes have resurfaced, with members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House of Representatives raising concerns about the bureaucracy that continues to thwart the efforts of people outside of the island who want to give needy Jamaican minors a better life.

SEOUL--At last February's Super Bowl, Hyundai Motor hired 'X-Men' movie star Ryan Reynolds for an ad plugging the new version of its Elantra sedan. Not in the script: a slide in first-half sales of the South Korean automaker's U.S. mainstay.

SAN FRANCISCO--When senior Yahoo executives gathered at a San Jose hotel for a management retreat in the spring of 2006, there was no outward sign of a company in crisis.

BRUSSELS--A team of scientists at a Belgian university say they have created a machine that turns urine into drinkable water and fertilizer using solar energy, a technique which could be applied in rural areas and developing countries.

NEW YORK--Beyonce's critically-praised visual album "Lemonade" on Tuesday earned the R&B singer a career-best 11 nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards, in a list that included multiple nods for Adele and rapper Kanye West but nothing for Taylor Swift.

PHILADELPHIA--Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic Party's U.S. presidential nomination on Tuesday, coming back from a stinging 2008 defeat in her first White House run and surviving a bitter primary fight to become the first woman to head the ticket of a major party in U.S. history.

WASHINGTON--The Obama administration announced a broad expansion on Tuesday of a program to let people fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras enter the United States as refugees, and said Costa Rica agreed to temporarily shelter some of those with no other recourse.

SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France--Knife-wielding attackers interrupted a French church service, forced the priest to his knees and slit his throat on Tuesday, a murder made even more shocking as one of the assailants was a known would-be jihadist under supposedly tight surveillance.

TOKYO--One day before he tried to hand a letter to a top Japanese lawmaker offering to kill hundreds of disabled people, the suspect in Japan's worst mass killing in decades tweeted: "I don't know if it's right, but action is the only way."

DUTCH QUARTER-- Oualichi Women's Soccer Association and the K1 Britannia Foundation collaborated to bring a soccer clinic to the I Can Foster Home. Twelve children ages 6 and up  enjoyed the program given  by European coaches of Progress Sports. The youngsters learned footwork, teamwork  and  played friendly games against each other.

SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey-- Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson forged an epic duel in the final round of the British Open and they ride into the season's final major, the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, on a wave of momentum and inextricably linked in golf lore.

Dear Editor,

I love reading letters to the editor, they are the first things I look for when I buy a copy of The Daily Herald. Unlike news articles, they relate the opinions, thoughts and experiences of the writers. They often expose things that need to be exposed; inform their community of things they need to be made aware of. And….. no better time to read them than before elections.

Last week, there were two very informative letters; one from the board of the National Alliance concerning a particular Member of Parliament, and the other …. well, the response from the offended MP in question.

Bear in mind that these two letters were written by career politicians, people who know what’s going on behind closed doors; namely, things they don’t want the public to know.

We have learned the following:

Whenever multi-million-dollar purchases take place, it’s never done directly with the manufacturer; there is always a go-between when certain politicians are involved. And, if a

spouse or another family member or friend of the politician is not involved; the deal – even though it would be beneficial for “their” people – does not go through.

The same is obviously true for every major project. “If there’s nothing in it for me, it won’t happen.” I have often heard this before, but this time it’s been confirmed in writing

by two honourable politicians which makes it a lot more believable.

Many millions of guilders (dollars?) in loans to pay off a court case that was due to the negligence of government.

From the response of the offended MP, we learned about:

A two-million-dollar Falcon switch that was bought for GEBE and never used (this took place 18 years ago and is only now coming out into the open. At least I have never read or heard about this matter.) The Holy Book says: “Whatsoever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatsoever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”

A 50-million-dollar loan to complete the government administration building. (The building that will go down in the history book of St. Maarten as the biggest waste of taxpayers’ money ever.) Since SVB bought this building, I wonder if that multi-million-dollar loan has been paid back.

Given all of the above, where is all the transparency they are constantly talking about? I can’t imagine that the other commissioners and ministers did not know about these obscure dealings.

I wonder why the then Ministers of Finance did not open their mouths. Were they afraid of being intimidated by the one who appointed them in that highly-paid position, or was it because of an unwritten agreement they have with each other, namely: Don’t expose my wrongdoings and incompetence, and I won’t expose yours! That way we all get to continue enriching ourselves and…. remain honourable in the eyes of the people.

The fact that they failed to establish an Integrity Chamber and to introduce electoral reform before the upcoming elections does not come as a surprise to anybody. Being restricted from jumping ship is not in their favour. Not being allowed to buy votes would have an impact on the number of votes their party gets. Anything that would have a negative impact on their political career is not going to happen.

They can’t even come up with a valid definition of vote buying. How convenient! Do they really need a written law to keep them from doing what they know is unlawful?

Let me give them a few examples of what every reasonably thinking person considers vote buying.

You are guilty of vote buying when – in exchange for a person’s vote – you offer him or her:

cash money. I have been told that the going rate during the last election was US $300, which, admittedly is a lot of money for a needy household.

A highly-paid position, whether or not he or she is qualified to hold that position; a paid position as a board member of a government-owned company, again, whether or not he or she is qualified for that position. A licence to operate a taxi or a bus, a business or whatever else requires a licence to operate. Rewarding someone who has campaigned well for your party with a parcel of government (the people’s) land in long lease. I’m sure there are a lot more concrete examples of vote buying that I am not aware of.

Any honest and true representative of the people should not have to be forced by law to be honest or to have integrity, or to be of moral character or transparent, or to refrain from buying votes and from enriching himself with ill-gotten wealth. He or she should want to earn their votes. They do so by actually pursuing the well-being of the people, especially the families in our community who are in dire need of help.

Clive Hodge

Dear Queenie,

My boyfriend and I have been together for several years, since a few weeks after his wife died. He still keeps his own home although we live together in my house.

My children like him just fine, but his kids treat me like dirt and when he does things with them they leave me out entirely.

Queenie, what should I do? I don’t want to be alone and it’s hard to find a good man.—Discouraged

Dear Discouraged,

There are worse things than being alone, and one of them is being treated like dirt.

I can understand why his children do not like you if he got together with you while they were still mourning their mother’s passing, However, it is time he demands that they at least treat you with respect. If he will not do that, nothing will change, and if the situation makes you so unhappy you should consider getting out of it.

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