Friday, March 05, 2021

Philipsburg JANUARY 20, 2021  -Gracita Arrindell said: the start of a new year is always a good time to take stock of the previous year and evaluate how we can improve on the past. The year twenty-twenty (2020) started and closed with one of the single most critical issues facing much of the world. “This new year will hopefully mark the start of a new era.

We have ten years ahead to look at our lives with a clear vision supported by achievable and coherent plans to deal with this pandemic as well as other pressing matters facing our young Nation. As stated in previous publications, there is an undeniable correlation between how intelligently we handle the pandemic and our ability to stabilize and grow our economy.  We must put people back to work with an executable plan”.

“Today we can look back at measures taken and evaluate our actions to present a comprehensive COVID-19 repressive– economic growth -policy to our nation. We must do this now and not in hindsight. Citizens must be better informed as well and have more say in decisions that affect their lives and livelihood. This year is the year for and by the People. It’s a year during which we must solve issues that are in your face up-close and personal ”

‘Inspraak vooraf niet achteraf’’. Citizen’s consultation must be done prior to the implementation of decisions that affect us all and not after the fact or once past the point of no return. Increase transparency and accountability to the people. Deep-clean Sint Maarten and strictly enact litter fines for trespassers”.

Arrindell states: “Again, there is a compelling case to be made in appointing a separate department manned with a multidisciplinary team to research/ coordinate, plan and advise Covid- repressive policies on behalf of the government. The latest government decision to allow this year’s Carnival to take place followed by the public debate about the consequences of this decision warrants the need to install such a department soonest. If this fete is allowed to take place, the negative health and -economic consequences will be catastrophic if common sense fails to prevail. We paraphrase our current Prime Minister in response to the Dutch governments' conditions set to provide liquidity support to Sint Maarten: “ we will be caught with our pants down”.

Gracita also states: “Currently several Ministers and or their spokespersons and other stakeholders updated on pandemic measures while using several and different media outlets. This remains of great concern as often these messages contradict each other or are sometimes even outdated. We certainly understand our small island culture where most Ministers prefer to do the talking themselves rather than delegate to an experienced and qualified entity. Such an entity removes the political element from the issue at hand. Doing this leaves the day -to day management of our people’s business to the Ministers while Parliament executes its oversight duties on the Executive branch. Too many voices and one head can’t work.”

“There are enough pressing issues facing our island in the wake of this pandemic which need our undivided attention. Matters that lie in the hands of our local Ministers and Parliament can be solved without pointing fingers at Holland. For example, our national symbols are derelict and have many unfinished structures, empty beer bottles and screaming ugly advertisements placed anywhere possible. These matters may seem small however once dealt with will give new meaning to small and clean equals beautiful.  Areas that need our attention include the following:

  • Introduce the unemployment benefit regulation. This public/ private partnership regulation can take away the element of negative surprise for employers and employees after any disaster.  Focus on the plights of our pensioners.
  • Update our urban- zoning laws. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, several derelict structures remain un-cleared, un-developed and even insalubrious. These include the former government administration building, Saphire beach club and Mullet-bay. The fate of other buildings such as the ‘ Blue Mall’, Westin- hotel, Caravanserai hotel, Mary’s Fancy Plantation remains unclear.  At the same time building, 15 stories and -up- are constructed. Is this the direction we are heading towards? Are we ready to cope with the inevitable disasters ahead with the choices made today?  
  • Update our economic zoning regulations. Why have food prices reportedly increased over 53% over the past years while the government continues to grant more licenses for grocery stores including locations that obstruct traffic and in locations that previously hosted restaurants? These ‘new’ shops are allowed to do business a few hundred meters from yet another grocery store. Also, there’s a noticeable increase of ‘ sidewalk adds’ and liqueur/cosmetic adds on buildings. Additionally, our island is littered with empty beer bottles. Revenues are literally to be found on the streets. It’s time for the government to restart the discussions on introducing the so-called ‘sin tax’ on liquor and tobacco, implement the removal of the income and or profit tax. Increases in ‘number booths’ and stand-alone casinos must be halted. What is the status of the gaming control board?

Our beautiful island is slowly turning into one giant advertising board. Business diversification policy is urgently warranted.

  • Implement real bus stops thereby significantly cutting traffic jams. It’s time to bring part of our infrastructure into the 21st century. Identify, purchase land where needed and designate Real bus stops.

 Gracita: concludes; “ The first quarter of the new year should give citizens a more unified and coherent action plan from our elected and appointed representatives. Plan, based on a vision that is clear in its intention and deliberate in its actions.  Our citizens also have a critical role and say in the direction we want to take Sint Maarten. Together we can. Let’s make it happen”.


February 28, 2021    NEW YORK (AP) — When drained of glamour, what’s left of the Golden Globes? That’s one of the biggest questions heading into the 78th annual awards on Sunday night. The show, postponed two months from its usual early-January perch, will have little of what makes the Globes one of the frothiest and glitziest events of the year. Due to the pandemic, there will be no parade of stars down the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Its hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be on different sides of the country.

February 26, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Most playwrights who dip their toes into musical theater for the first time go small. Not Katori Hall: Her first assignment was to capture the life of a musical giant — Tina Turner. “I’m not really scared of much, which is probably why I felt like ‘Oh yeah, I’ll try this. I’ll take Tina Turner, one of the biggest icons in the world, and attempt to retell her story in this musical form,’” Hall says, laughing. “I had no qualms whatsoever.” That fearlessness has led to Hall’s first Tony nominations, as a producer and book writer for “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.” At the awards show, it will compete against “Jagged Little Pill” and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical!” for Broadway’s best new musical crown.

February 26, 2021   NEW YORK (AP) — Netflix on Friday released a study it commissioned from top academic researchers that shows the streaming giant is outpacing much of the film industry in the inclusivity of its original films and television series. For years, academic studies have sought to capture inequalities in Hollywood and to hold studios accountable for making film and television that doesn’t reflect American demographics. Those studies have generally relied on box-office or ratings data, often leaving out streaming platforms. Netflix is trying a different route with both more transparency and more company control. The streamer commissioned the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to analyze its 2018 and 2019 original, live-action films and series, and presented the results to members of the press Thursday in a video presentation. The results were, as Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder and director Stacy L. Smith noted, far more positive than most Annenberg reports, which have typically found only slow, sporadic improvement in the most popular films.


February 26, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Four hours of morning television is a lot of time to fill, but new Black News Channel hosts Mike Hill and Sharon Reed don’t expect to run out of things to say. Their new program, which debuts Monday at 6 a.m. Eastern, is the centerpiece of Black News Channel’s relaunch to emphasize commentary and a more analytical approach to the news. Nearly invisible when it debuted last year, BNC is methodically becoming more available to viewers. “This is when I need my voice to be heard and I want my voice to be heard,” said Hill, who has worked at Fox Sports and ESPN. “So much is happening in our country.”

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February 28, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

February 28, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking beyond the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, President Joe Biden and lawmakers are laying the groundwork for another top legislative priority — a long-sought boost to the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure that could run into Republican resistance to a hefty price tag. Biden and his team have begun discussions on the possible outlines of an infrastructure package with members of Congress, particularly mindful that Texas’ recent struggles with power outages and water shortages after a brutal winter storm present an opportunity for agreement on sustained spending on infrastructure.

February 26, 2021    WASHINGTON (AP) — On a cold, gray February afternoon, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stepped out of the West Wing wrapped in a puffy black parka and clutching a folder of documents, seemingly oblivious to the Washington custom of having an aide schlep the paperwork. Viewed as an outsider to partisan politics, she now has a place in President Joe Biden’s inner sanctum, a Ph.D. economist who does the reading, knows the numbers and treats her staff as peers rather than underlings. Yellen, entourage in tow, had been at the White House to strategize about how to push through Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan -- a package that could determine how quickly the U.S. economy heals, how the Democrats fare in the midterm elections and just how much Americans can trust the government to solve the nation’s toughest problems.

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