Monday, June 21, 2021

May 13, 2021  Philipsburg – Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs expresses grave concern for the future of relations within the Kingdom when out of one side of their mouths, the Dutch Government claims it is looking out for the welfare of the people of St. Maarten and continuously seeks ways and means to move the goalpost even after conditions have been met and agreements signed.

In the case of the recent move by the State Secretary of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Knops to further delay the 5th tranche of liquidity support of 39 million Euros, Prime Minister Jacobs sees this as uncalled for and totally against a legally established decision and the rules of order of the KingdomCouncil of Ministers (RMR) meeting.

The 5th tranche of liquidity support was first delayed in March 2021 when the agenda point for liquidity was removed for other unrelated reasons(need for assurances from parliament as to their stance on the Caribbean Entity for Reform and Development (COHO))which was later resolved and approved after being placed on the subsequent RMRagenda. This latest delay of another three weeks is being cited as due to governance issues at the airport and goes against the conclusion made by the RMR meeting of April 23, 2021, whereby, it was decided that St. Maarten had met all the conditions to obtain the 5th tranche of NAf 39 million. The technical teams are quite satisfied with the work being done on the country package and will be meeting next week to look towards agreements for the next three months.

While there have been several attempts to push the government to act, that could not be done before the proper substantiation was there for the government’s interference (outside of meetings and letters) taking into consideration the Corporate Governance recommendations that require the government to take the hands-off approach.

The government has acknowledged and is addressing those concerns with the necessary stakeholders within the constraints of the law, and the relevant stakeholders have expressed willingness to allow said processes to take place. Several meetings have been held with the airport management and boards to assure that the concerns are being addressed structurally with legal advice. Meetings will continue to be held to ensure all parties are on the same page as we move forward. This is the way the government will ensure that proper procedures are followed to avoid further corporate governance issues which could jeopardize the continuity of the reconstruction of the airport, which is our gateway to our main economic driver. This is of high priority for the government of St. Maarten.

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, "Unfortunately, State Secretary Knops has moved the goal post without proper legal basis and is acting outside of his mandate by adding an additional condition for receiving liquidity support. We do not believe this is an effective way to offer support. Furthermore, the government of St. Maarten is obligated to make decisions in the best interest of its people irrespective of the Netherlands' political ideas and opinions. The legitimacy of the government of St. Maarten depends on the ability to address its matters domestically. As such, within the Council of Ministers, we have the responsibility of assessing and taking the right decision for St. Maarten, given the local context and relevant factors; with facts and not conjecture."

As it relates to the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company (PJIAH), St. Maarten is currently addressing that situation. Attaching this matter to the 5th tranche of liquidity support will further limit time for the decision-making process and coming to the best solution which also requires necessary finances. This is especially given the financial situation of St. Maarten. St. Maarten will not be able to meet many of its operational costs if the situation persists. This decision also negatively impacts the vital processes the State Secretary mentions in his letter, as the necessary finances to be able to do so remain out of reach.

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, "As Shareholder, we are dealing with the situation at PJIAH. To prevent further violations of a corporate governance nature, legal review is currently of the highest importance. Considering that further violations can delay the decision-making and execution of the Airport reconstruction project, we are in the process of structurally improving corporate governance at the Airport. The system of rules, practices, and processes by which a company is directed and controlled is the epitome of corporate governance. Structural changes are underway even as the evaluation of reconstruction bids continue. Based on the information provided by the Airport project team and the NRPB, the project is currently on track, contrary to statements made."

With regards to the many opinions from former political candidates and members of the opposition, Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “Contrary to the opinions thus far, St. Maarten has been genuine in dealing with the Dutch and has been open to all discussions for receiving support, both monetary and technical. Considering a good future partnership with the Dutch would be in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten, the Government of St. Maarten has operated in good faith. However, St. Maarten continues to have to fight for equity within the Kingdom at every turn. It’s unfortunate that the discussion recently held this past Wednesday in a Steering Committee meeting, whereby the progress of the airport was highlighted, and we confirmed that we are in the process of taking steps to bring improvements which have a legal trajectory, that the emission air State Secretary goes beyond his authorities and decides not to move forward with the agreed-upon liquidity as per the Kingdom Council of Ministers’ meeting of three weeks ago. Embittered politicians seeking to gain mileage on these unfortunate series of events only do more harm to St. Maarten and its people. The disrespect is not just towards the government but to the entire population of St. Maarten.”

“As partners and for the sustainability of any partnerships, we should be able to listen and understand each other. The concerns of all other stakeholders warrant further discussion but should not result in the halt of the already approved liquidity support. The consequences are not suited for this issue,” Prime Minister Jacobs continued.

“The goal of Parliament and Government of St. Maarten, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands should be aligned, especially in these dire economic times, to safeguard the welfare of our people. As for this Government, regardless of inaccurate assumptions of some political opportunists, we will continue to work in the best interest of St. Maarten. There is lots of work to be done and though we are small and financially strapped, we are determined to successfully achieve our goals of getting St. Maarten back on its feet. Our airport is vital to achieving such, and due diligence will be observed in all actions to safeguard our patrimony, the employees and wider community who depend on it for their livelihood,” Prime Minister Jacobs concluded.

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June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey and Hearst Magazines are teaming up for interviews that pair young Black journalists with elders who include civil rights activists, celebrities and others sharing some lessons learned in life. The project, “Lift Every Voice,” will be featured on Winfrey’s website and in magazines like ELLE, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Runner’s World and Winfrey’s own O Quarterly. Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle, Andre De Shields and the activist Claudette Colvin are among the people featured. While some material from earlier Hearst television stories is used, the interviewers are drawn primarily from the ranks of historic Black colleges and universities, with most of the portraits taken by Black photographers just starting in the field. In one example, 94-year-old community activist Opal Lee, from Fort Worth, Texas, talks to Mariah Campbell, a journalism student at Texas Southern University, about efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Winfrey said she was inspired by her own memories of knowing poet Maya Angelou when Winfrey was young, and how Angelou stressed the importance of sharing stories from the time she grew up.

June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Philharmonic will resume subscription performances in September following a historic 18-month gap caused by the coronavirus pandemic, presenting a shortened schedule of 78 concerts in a season shifted from Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall while the orchestra’s home is remodeled. The Philharmonic said Tuesday its season will open Sept. 17 with music director Jaap van Zweden conducting the orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov in Anna Clyne’s “Within Her Arms,” Copland’s “Quiet City,” George Walker’s “Antifonys for Chamber Orchestra” and Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 4. That concert, the orchestra’s first regular event since March 10, 2020, will be the first of 50 at Lincoln Center’s 1,086-seat Alice Tully Hall, a venue more typically used for chamber music and recitals. There will be 28 concerts in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 1,233-seat Rose Theater, located at Columbus Circle, less than half a mile from Geffen Hall, plus four concerts at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra’s home from 1891 to 1962.

June 15, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Rita Moreno emigrated with her mother from Puerto Rico at age five. By six, she was dancing at Greenwich Village nightclubs. By 16, she was working full time. By 20, she was in “Singin’ in the Rain.” In the documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” Norman Lear says: “I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met in the business who lived the American dream more than Rita Moreno.” In the decades that followed, Moreno won a Tony, a Grammy, an Emmy and an Oscar, for “West Side Story.” (Her entire acceptance speech: “I can’t believe it.” ) With seemingly infinite spiritedness, she has epitomized the best of show business while also being a victim to its cruelties. That has made Moreno, who co-stars in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming “West Side Story remake, a heroic figure to Latinos, and to others. “I have never given up,” she said in a recent interview by Zoom from her home in Berkeley, California.

June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — The tragedies of Brian Wilson’s life is a rock ‘n’ roll story well told. The postscript — that he’s a survivor nearing age 80 who appears to be supported personally and professionally in a way he never really had before — is less familiar. Despite some uncomfortable moments in “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” that important update is the point of the documentary that premieres Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film’s heart is a series of drives around Southern California, where Wilson and Rolling Stone magazine editor Jason Fine talk, listen to music and occasionally stop at restaurants. There’s a comfort level between the two; Fine is a journalist who has become a friend. Wilson, the creative force behind the Beach Boys, has dealt with an abusive, hard-driving father, the mental illness Schizoaffective disorder where he’d hear voices berating and belittling him, and band members often resistant to where he was going musically. Add in years of drug abuse, a quack psychologist who effectively held him, prisoner, for a decade and the younger brothers who died early, and it’s a lot to endure.

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June 16, 2021 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday installed an energetic critic of Big Tech as a top federal regulator at a time when the industry is under intense pressure from Congress, regulators and state attorneys general. The selection of legal scholar Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission is seen as signaling a tough stance toward tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. Khan was sworn in as FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her as one of five members of the commission on a 69-28 vote. Khan has been a professor at Columbia University Law School and burst onto the antitrust scene with her massive scholarly work in 2017 as a Yale law student, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” She helped lay the foundation for a new way of looking at antitrust law beyond the impact of big-company market dominance on consumer prices. As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, she played a key role in a sweeping bipartisan investigation of the market power of the tech giants.

June 15, 2021  BRUSSELS (AP) — The deal the United States and the European Union reached Tuesday to end their long-running rift over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus will suspend billions in punitive tariffs. It will ease trans-Atlantic tensions. And it will let the two sides focus on a common economic threat: China. But the breakthrough still leaves some trade friction between the U.S. and the EU unresolved. Most prominently, President Biden kept in place import taxes that President Donald Trump imposed on European steel and aluminum, a move that infuriated some of America’s closet allies three years ago. For now, Tuesday’s truce in the Boeing-Airbus dispute goes a long way toward repairing a huge commercial relationship — $933 billion in two-way trade last year despite the pandemic — that came under enormous strain during the Trump years. Among other things, the former president angrily charged the Europeans with using unfair trade practices to sell more products to the United States than they bought and of shirking their responsibility to pay for their own national defense.

June 15, 2021 -A day after her interview for a part-time job at Target last year, Dana Anthony got an email informing her she didn’t make the cut. Anthony didn’t know why — a situation common to most job seekers at one point or another. But she also had no sense at all of how the interview had gone, because her interviewer was a computer. More job-seekers, including some professionals, may soon have to accept impersonal online interviews where they never talk to another human being, or know if behind-the-scenes artificial-intelligence systems are influencing hiring decisions. Demand for online hiring services, which interview job applicants remotely via laptop or phone, mushroomed during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains high amid a perceived worker shortage as the economy opens back up. These systems claim to save employers money, sidestep hidden biases that can influence human recruiters and expand the range of potential candidates. Many now also use AI to assess candidate skills by analyzing what they say.

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