Friday, March 05, 2021

Philipsburg, St. Maarten, 20 January 2021 –  “Not only has the agreement for the country package been signed, but the Government has also announced the organization that it has put in place to guide St. Maarten's part in the agreement. What will follow now is the so-called implementation plans, although items in the country package are already being worked on. Case in point,  we see from a meeting of the four ministers of Justice that it has been concluded that matters raised in the country package will be executed. 

So it is not as if everything is on hold until there are implementation plans.  It is therefore paramount that the officially signed documents between the Dutch and St. Maarten Governments be shared with the Parliament of Sint Maarten,” stated Member of Parliament Sarah A. Wescot-Williams,  regarding the Country’s Reform Package.

Wescot-Williams says what she missed in the Government’s notification about the St.Maarten's organization is the involvement of all stakeholders in this process - the involvement of the social partners and the larger communities of business, health, education, care, etc.  In addition to that, the MP said, the Government of St. Maarten,  in making the announcement regarding the agreement and the work organization, refers to the governing program.  The Parliament of Sint Maarten is yet to receive a governing program of the current Government.  The Parliament is yet to debate the National Development Vision!  

“We all want a clear picture of where this Government wants to take the country and how exactly the country package of St. Maarten aligns with the NA/UP governing program as well as the national development vision, as announced by the government. It behooves the Government and the Parliament if we are serious about collectively deciding on the future sustainable development of this country to analyse for ourselves how we are going to carry on with this process in the context of the agreement signed with the Dutch Government.” 

Further Wescot-Williams believes that “much of the process towards decision making that should be lead by the Government is now actually in the hands of -as it stands right now- a team of the internal affairs ministry in the Hague and the local government apparatus.  Unlike what the government purports, this does usurp a lot of what the Government should be deliberating and deciding. In deciding on these crucial topics, we must get ahead of the curve. Any chatter that St. Maarten can, later on, take a different position at the handling of the draft COHO law is   nothing more than wishful thinking because this train has already departed the station and the process based on the agreement has commenced.” 

If that COHO law is not approved or if there is even the appearance that it will not be approved by St. Maarten, the MP expounded, then the agreement for the country package etc. no longer stands, with all the dire consequences thereof. 

“We could have been much further in the process and have some meaningful deliberations on the draft law and the country package,  had the Government from the onset not played hide and seek on the matter.  The Government played hide and seek with Parliament in seeking its approval to reject the new entity. So holding off until we have the discussion regarding the draft new entity and thinking that we can then turn things around or in a different direction is an  unrealistic  and misleading view.”


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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