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What is worst Natural Disasters of Attacks from Bandits and Armed Gunmen?

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What is worst Natural Disasters of Attacks from Bandits and Armed Gunmen?
It is August 2015. The hurricane season has begun. The first warning of a possible hurricane was issued. The next few days, St Maarten prepares for a possible hurricane. How and what do we dont know yet. But the Weather Channel and the government of St. Maarten keep us informed. Thanks for that!

It is August 2015. After the very cowardly robbery and the murder of a policeman, it was Sunday, August 16th again: A shooting in the heart of Philipsburg.

What is worse? A hurricane where you can prepare OR crazy idiots who can at any time of the day shoot you and / or robbing you for your personal belongings.

You almost wish that the potential hurricane next week will reach St Maarten, and will blow away all the idiots who engage in violence of the island. Then we can say that there is still someone listening to us: the Lord.

The damage from a hurricane, we can recover. But human suffering is irreparable. The cruise ships will come again after a hurricane on St Maarten. But will they still come as this criminal idiots can continue to do their thing ??

Concerned Citizen of SXM

Last Updated ( Monday, 17 August 2015 20:16 )

 

Rotary Club of St. Maarten Mid Isle presented Dr. Lance Nash with a Paul Harris Fellow. The previous board under the leadership of Immediate Past President (IPP) Wayne Wilkie presented Dr. Nash this recognition for his numerous financial donations towards

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“Study the past if you would define the future. In other words, if you want to be able to change the future, you need to learn from your past experiences.” ~ 21st Century Credit Unions Success Through Shared Services, opening speech delivered by Mr. Shelwyn Salesia, Director of Supervision Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten
With keen interest I listened to the lecture and interview from Candice Henriquez of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten while travelling from Curacao to St Maarten on August 12th, 2015 (files can be found here http://www.qracao.com/index.php/nieuws-vandaag/14366-candice-henriquez-cbcs-verlaag-administratieve-lasten-investeer-in-onderwijs). The information, although not surprising to me, is informative. However I don't agree wholeheartedly with the proposed solutions for one fundamental reason; focusing on growth through private initiatives without taking in the context of the inequality in wealth and income distribution will result in the status quo. Without balance nothing works as it should. I would not fly an aircraft if the weight distribution is wacky. The economy is the same way.
Economic growth, as has been taught to many of us, is a smokescreen based on my findings. When you look at the repeating economic cycles of booms and bursts, we see more and more wealth destruction happening to the middle class while increasingly wealth being transferred to a small group of “upper” class. “Wealth is never created, nor destroyed, it’s merely transferred.” And as the middle class keeps shrinking in each boom and burst economic cycle, how can we talk about economic growth? In other words if you made one million United States Dollars in an economic boom and lost one million in an economic burst, what growth occurred? Even if it is transferred, from a global perspective as a whole, we cannot call this economic growth. We however can talk about inequality in distribution but as a human race, imbalances will affect the whole in the long-term.
Biblically it is written, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9
History is a great teacher. All throughout history we have learned how great civilizations collapse but to date scholars are still debating how and why. But many similarities can be seen happening today from that as the past. For example it is said that the city of Atlantis possessed great technologies before its demised (According to Plato, the city of Atlantis was home to the most advanced society in the world), and Egypt’s infrastructure and technologies are still a mystery to date. But one thing that remains common and practically the same, even within this day and age, is the arrangement of human affairs. Despite our advancement in science and technology, the arrangement of human affairs remains practically the same for thousands of years. My hypothesis is then that this could be the core reason why history keeps repeating itself because our arrangement of human affairs has never changed and evolved. The Middle Ages feudal system of king, serfs, peasants, etc is still very prevalent today. The form may have changed but the substance is very much still alive today.

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Although it is being debated if the well-known Greek historian Plutarch – who died in 120 A.D. wrote this quote or not, it speaks volume. If Plutarch was right, the world has been getting sicker and sicker for quite a while. As the year 2000 approached, former President Jimmy Carter was invited to speak at a forum devoted to the question of, "What is the world's greatest challenge in this new millennium?" Carter's speech in answer to that question focused on the growing gap between the rich and poor. In his words:
“At the beginning of the last century, the ten richest countries were nine times wealthier than the ten poorest ones. In 1960, the ratio was 30:1. At the beginning of this 21st century, average income per person in the twenty richest nations was $27,591 and in the poorest nations only $211, a ratio of 131:1.” (Carter, 2005, p. 179).
How has this happened? What do we know about the root causes of the deepening divide between the rich and poor? Unfortunately you won’t really find answers to such questions and many more in traditional text books. I know because I came out of University with more questions than answers to be honest and I had to find the answers too many of my outstanding questions in non-traditional media, literature, and text books. Going deeper into this subject is beyond the scope of this medium but trust me when I say that history is fundamental and does repeat itself. For now, I leave you with the following statement:
"...... when the rate of return on capital (r) is greater than the rate of economic growth (g) over the long term, the result is concentration of wealth, and this unequal distribution of wealth causes social and economic instability." ~ Thomas Piketty

By Emilio Kalmera, Financial Advisor, August 14, 2015

Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2015 13:02 )

A LOST OPPORTUNITY.....

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On August 10, 2015, I tried tuning in by radio and by TV and even looked on-line to listen to the much anticipated debate in Parliament regarding CRIME on St. Maarten, hoping to hear what our representatives would have to say on the subject in the wake of the horrific killing of Officer Benjamin and then this:..........TOTAL SILENCE, as this very important piece of business of the people by their Representatives was discussed BEHIND CLOSED DOORS! We did not/do not need to know details of plans and ideas as they relate to our National Security, but at a time when everybody is on edge because of the events of last week in the heart of our capital, an open discussion and high level debate by
our 15 MP's COULD have started the healing process for an island nation in pain....

Michael J. Ferrier
August 10, 2015

Last Updated ( Monday, 10 August 2015 18:57 )

Officer Benjamin's Sacrifice.

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Dear Editor,
Last week's shooting of a Police Officer by a coward with a gun has brought our once tranquil "Friendly" island to an all time new low in societal behavior. Killing any human being is bad; however, being mentally capable, and physically prepared and able to, actually shoot a Police Officer, a representative of the Law, is a whole other matter! In the rawness of such a tragedy we, (the collective we), seem to be seeking serious debate on this "National" issue. The evidence can be found in both traditional print and social media that has been "lit up"! We are learning that compassion is alive and well in our society. The outpouring of support for the officer and his family should truly give us all hope. Evidence of our community's sense of humanity continues to manifest itself as we search for answers to explain such a horrendous criminal act. I have read several articles, letters and online posts in which concerned and oftentimes, clearly enraged citizens try to dissect the situation as they try to identify the root causes of such brazen, unrestrained, reckless violence and a lack of respect for life and authority.

On Monday, August 10th 2015, Parliament is scheduled to debate the crime situation on our island. This is a good move, as they are the ones who have the power to legislate and affect public policy. We should all take time to follow the debate. And we should all hope, or rather EXPECT to hear a constructive and practical discussion that will address the problem of crime on the island as well as the root causes. Hopefully, there will not be the usual political grandstanding, and chest pounding by members of Parliament, as proof of their individual concern about the tragic event and Officer Benjamin's fate. Instead, the debate should be honest, meaningful and, while passionate, remain at a level that will allow discussion of societal problems that, according to all indications, are the root cause of this evil. It is one thing to look for someone, or something to blame given the situation we are confronted with, however, it is more important that we (as a country) attempt to figure out the cause and seek ways and means to prevent, mitigate, or discourage future similar tragedies.

Mention should be made here of the fact that failure to properly control the borders of our island in years gone by, together with the failure to ensure that ALL children on St. Maarten, legal and illegal, received an education at proper schools, we, as a society, are paying a price. We should have realized that "if we didn't pay then, we would pay in the future". Is it possible then that "the future" has arrived??

In a Press release issued last Thursday following the shooting, UP Party Deputy Leader MP Frankie Meyers stated that while fighting crime is a priority for Government and Parliament, they (the Government and the Parliament) "face a major hurdle", namely the lack of finances. He said: "Yes we need to get criminals off the street, yes, we need to lock them up and I believe we also need programs to reform and make them productive members of our society, but for that we need the funds". He went on to state that "Parliament has approved the 2015 budget, yet under DUTCH rules, the Committee for Financial Supervision (the CFT) out ranks us". According to the MP, the CFT (and by implication, the Dutch) is (are) to be blamed for amongst other things, the fact that the prison expansion cannot be started. The way I understand it, MP Meyers' message suggests that government wants us, as an island, to be safer, but the restrictions on spending, as enforced by the CFT, are endangering our lives. According to me, that line of reasoning is stretching things a bit. To get our separate status and remain in the Kingdom of the Netherlands while maintaining that “much desired” Dutch Passport, we made a deal with the Dutch, thus accepting several conditions. (To be fair to MP Meyers, he always supported Independence, the cost of which -both financially as well as otherwise- has never been publically debated or explained).

But, the reality is that the current status required meeting conditions of a deal. One of those conditions was that they (the Dutch) would take over the debt of the now defunct Netherlands Antilles, some of which was St. Maarten's. In return, we agreed, in accordance with our own Constitution, to annually balance our budget and submit to financial supervision ensuring there would be sound financial management. Since 10-10-10 Governments (plural), including the first three, (involving a political party I was a member of), have not exactly stuck to their end of the deal.

How many times in the last 5 years has the budget been late or missing? When have financial statements been handled by Parliament? Setting all that aside, it would be interesting to hear from the present majority coalition in Parliament AND from their Government, why budgets are "paper thin", as MP Meyers puts it. In the period leading up to 10-10-10, I was one of the politicians who blamed a lot of St. Maarten's financial woes on the fact that Willemstad, the seat of the Netherlands Antillean Government, was sucking us dry and we had to "beg" for just about everything. (I speak from experience going back as far as 25 years or so, to the days of the SXM Crime Task Force in the early 1990's).

Personally, I was one of the proponents to raise the then ridiculously low salaries of the Island Council and Executive Council Members to the more than decent levels of pay the MP's and Ministers receive in Country St. Maarten since 2010, as I was (naively) convinced that these increased salaries could and would buy the country decent quality MP's and Ministers.

Now we send no money to Curacao, have our own Parliament and our own Ministers. In addition, taxes collected on St. Maarten, stay on St. Maarten. As a country, we are able to borrow. Today, we pay 5% turnover tax instead of 3%. We pay higher container charges, higher Airport Departure fees, higher fuel throughput fees, higher seaport fees, higher utility fees, higher communications' fees and so on. All to Government directly, or to Government owned companies (as the charges relate to our Sea-, Air- and Teleports).

So why then has it not become easier and simpler for successive Governments of Country St. Maarten to pay for and manage the business of the people? Where did all the money go? According to the Central Bank, since 10-10-10, St. Maarten has racked up a debt of almost 700 million guilders. Maybe the budget is “paper thin” because Government or Government owned companies spent money on projects and schemes that include:

  • purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate with no plan other than leasing it out to a third party for monthly rent receipts that are LOWER than the bank loan repayments;
  • purchase of the Vorst property worth maybe half of the purchase price (and still waiting for a purpose)
  • finalizing the New Government Building (an excellently thought out and financed one-stop Public Service facility plan, high jacked in 2004 by greedy people, resulting in the building being built but remaining empty and costing more than double its originally planned cost)
  • a Parliament and Government that together cost tax-payers in excess of NA Fls. 20 million a year in salaries, benefits and housing
  • Parliamentarians and Government Ministers that are elected and/or appointed for 4 years, but guaranteed salaries and benefits for up to 6
  • a Bureau Telecommunications that instead of operating in a frugal manner in order to transfer millions of guilders of annual surpluses to chronically empty Government coffers, buys a piece of a building it does not need for millions of dollars, with no return on investment
  • payments for indiscriminate trucking of sand from the harbor to various points on the island, including dumping it in the Simpson Bay Lagoon where the water washes it away truck load by truck load, free of charge
  • and the list goes on...

Hopefully in the meeting of Monday, August 10, 2015, Parliament will discuss and debate how to get a grip on reckless spending. Maybe, Parliament will debate a better and efficient system for collection of taxes, fines and other Government receivables. Can a country that admits to low tax compliance afford tax deals? Apparently previous Governments thought so with the AUC deal, thereby missing out on over NA Fls. 60 million in taxes unable to collect.

Maybe, the MP's will address the fact that money is tight on the annual budget because of the frequent changes of government. There have been four cabinets in as many years, resulting in exorbitant costs due to an ill-advised and ludicrous severance package that provides not only ex-Ministers, but also Parliamentarians (!!) with salaries for up to 2 years after leaving office.
Every candidate who is elected as a Member of Parliament, KNOWS from the get-go that his or her term is for 4 years, unless re-elected. So who will be the brave MP to suggest changing compensation of MP's from 6 years of pay for 4 years of work, to 4 years of pay for 4 years of work?

And hopefully the Parliamentary debate will take time to acknowledge that government companies, foundations and independently operated public institutions are operating virtually free of any oversight (the so-called "arms-length-approach"). Dividends or other transfers of funds to government coffers that could have been spent on social programs, or additional police training and equipment, instead have gone into questionable spending, if not pure excess, including:

  •  Massive increases for the security contract at the Harbor.
  • Bronze statues, apparently, worth their weight in gold at the Airport.
  • Bureau Telecommunication buying floors in a building that stand empty
  • etc., etc.

So, to put a fine point on it, Parliament needs to explain what the people have gotten in the last 5 years in terms of new schools, roads, housing projects, health care facilities, social safety net programs, police training, police equipment and/or police salary raises.

In the last five years, St. Maarten has not become safer, so on Monday, during the debate on crime, the MP's need to explain to us how with higher taxes, higher debt and higher expenditure and very little to show for it, the crime situation on St. Maarten is anything but our own man-made-on-St. Maarten problem. The argument that St. Maarten as a country had to be built “from scratch” won’t fly! Because, if you know you have to build an infrastructure, but you engage in wasteful spending and tax giveaways, then you admit to willful mismanagement.

Honest and brave Parliamentarians need to explain to our youth who may have political aspirations, how it is possible that persons convicted of crimes can sit amongst them, reaping the benefits of being a Parliamentarian.

What will the MP's say and do that is within their power to change the situation on St. Maarten, so that young men and women do not view crime as a way to make a living.

Our Parliamentarians need to tell us how they intend to engage Government to manage public finances within our own (not DUTCH, not CFT) budgetary rules, to bring expenditures in line with income.

If the debate in Parliament is going to be the usual finger pointing exercise or some other variation of the “blame game”, then THAT truly will be the ultimate crime. Officer Benjamin’s ultimate sacrifice will have been in vain and all of us will be victims.

Michael J. Ferrier
August 9, 2015

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 August 2015 19:03 )

ST. MARTIN PEOPLE’S LIVES MATTER TOO

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‘Help keep their properties among themselves’.
This is an open – but very necessary and urgent appeal - to all St. Martin political leaders, including Prime-minister Marcel Gumbs, President Aline Hanson, Members of Parliament, Members of the Collectivity, land-surveyors , real-estate agents, notaries, banks, political activists, bloggers, St. Martin radio and tv-talk show hosts and all others involved with- and concerned about land- and property issues, affecting native St. Martiners.
Increasingly - St. Martiners are losing properties in a variety of ways.
Either through sales on the open market to outsiders, who then make sure to maintain- and to develop these acquired properties exclusively among their own kind.
Just drive around for instance in the Cul-de -Sac area in the North- and observe a new form of gated ‘South-Africa’ being established in the most beautiful areas of the island – and you will see where we are heading as a society.
However also – among a certain ethnic Caribbean group a very powerful ‘syndicate’ has emerged, which slowly- but surely is buying up auctioned off properties left- right and center on the island only to be preserved- and to be developed for the benefit of their own ethnic circles.
Although, we can not blame these ‘outsiders’ for doing what they are doing in that regards - one does not have to be a ‘rocket-scientist’ to understand, where this all is leading to and where eventually it will leave native St. Martin people – becoming ‘squatters’ at best.
Clearly – this process of ‘outsiders’ increasingly owning land on our island - is a form of a peaceful - but equally very effective form of St. Martin people becoming ethnically cleansed, or becoming victims of a silent genocide by substitution – nothing more, nothing less !
While - in principle, we do not object to the right of people to sell their property – it should also be noted that a people without land, in fact does not exist as such and that therefore in our country’s best interest this should not be allowed to happen just like that – without some kind of restriction or pre-conditions.
The time is long overdue - that on this island, we also find ways and means to prevent native St. Martiners, un-necessarily losing their properties to non-St. Martiners.
In this regard, we must commend very highly the Soualiga Grassroots People Movement for focusing all its attention and energy exposing this very dangerous threat to the very existence of the native St. Martin People that is taking place on the island.
Just for the record.
Although, our St. Martin Grassroots People Movement still regrets the process that led to the formation of the Soualigan Grassrooters - in principle we agree very much thus-far with most its positions on issues effecting our people from the perspective of preserving the native, indigenous St. Martin People.
For now – our movement strongly recommends all those mentioned at the beginning of this open letter to do whatever it takes to prevent properties owned by St. Martiners UN-NECESSARILY and without pre-conditions ending up in the hands of no-St. Martiners.
While – at the moment – there might be no laws, nor legislation protecting the property ownership of St. Martiners – we will not accept any excuses for not at least IMMEDIATELY – creating a new MINDSET and WILLINGNESS – that eventual will lead towards legislation as proposed above.
It simply is UN-ACCEPTABLE that the small-scale native, indigenous St. Martin community can not be protected against being ‘gobbled up’ by outsiders who flood the island and have all kinds of advantages in their favor to simply de-facto take over our land.
In the meantime, we recommend all notaries involved in the sale of properties belonging to natives, to call in family-members to give them the first serious options to buy the property in question BEFORE preparing any sale to non-St. Martiners.
It simply is un-acceptable, that notaries and others collaborate with certain family-members, who want to, or who are financially forced to sell family land - to sell to outsiders – BEFORE first making an offer to their own siblings, cousins, or other family members.
For any notary to collaborate in any sale, bypassing family-members, is completely, un-professional, un-ethical, immoral and goes completely against the tradition of our ancestors.
Let it therefore be known that notaries and others who participate in this type of activities, will be exposed and held accountable for in fact contributing towards the ultimate genocide by substitution of the St. Martin people.
While we will carefully monitor and report on these developments, we recommend people to also share these kinds of sales which deliberately circumvent family members getting first option with the public and/or with all pro- St. Martin activists.
After all – ST. MARTIN LIVES MATTERS TOO.

Leopold James

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 July 2015 11:41 )

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