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Soualiga Newsday Focus (842)

Weekend Mall ISIS Terror Threat Keeps Shoppers Away

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD – According to reports out of Trinidad, malls across the republic were empty over the weekend.  Shoppers stayed away fearing that there could have been some form of terrorist attack on one or more malls throughout the island.

A threat was made via social media last week in an audio message stating that an attack would take place on the weekend.

This placed the country’s security forces on high alert as an investigation was conducted to find the source of the threat and to determine how credible it was.

Chamber of Industry and Commerce President Richie Sookhai from Chaguanas, in a speech an official event stated that the country needed to be weary of threat, and that terrorist must never be allowed to infiltrate Trinidad communities.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT  

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Fear of Zika Linked to Poor Performance of Caribbean Hotels

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – For the first four months of 2016, there has been a noticeable decrease in visitor numbers to the Caribbean that can be in part linked to the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas, according to industry research firm STR’s consulting & analytics division.

Other possible influences on a decrease in visitors numbers is the East Coast blizzard in January and the weak Canadian dollar, but specialist feel the main reason appears to be fear over Zika.

Compared with the April year-to-date period of 2015, the Caribbean’s occupancy fell 3.0% to 72.9%. Average daily rate was down 1.4% to US$268.86. Revenue per available room dropped 4.4% to US$195.99.

“An April survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group showed that 96.1% of American consumers indicated that the Zika virus had not had an impact on their travel plans this year,” said Steve Hennis, STR’s VP for consulting & analytics. “While that sounds positive, the converse would state that 3.9% of Americans did change their travel plans because of the virus.

“A 3.9% drop in demand would have a fairly noticeable impact on occupancies, and data for the Caribbean hotel industry shows the effects already. Coming off of a strong 2015, and despite a very modest increase in supply, all of the key performance metrics are down.”

Hennis also cited the following data in regard to performance in the Caribbean:

58% of hotels reported an occupancy decline with almost one-fourth of hotels experiencing an occupancy slide of 8% or more;

47% of hotels reported an ADR decrease; and

56% of hotels reported a RevPAR decrease.

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Citizens told to remain calm as security beefed up at shopping malls

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD – No state of emergency will be declared, but there are conspirators in our midst, were the words from Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley who said the authorities are taking the ISIS threat seriously about bombing malls in the country.

Trinidad security services are no closer in identifying the source and origin of an audio message that was circulated over social media that warned of a threat to attack shopping malls by ISIS.

Prime Minister Rowley told the media that whether the information is credible or not, it does have the potential to be a destabilizing influence.

In the meantime, security at shopping malls throughout the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago has been increased while security forces have been placed on high alert as the investigation continues.

University of the West Indies Criminal Division rep Randy Seepersad, was reported to have said that the audio messages should be taken seriously, adding that ISIS does have a recruitment arm in the Republic who trained people.

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There May Be Quite A Bit to Keep an Eye On. Potential for Two Tropical Systems Forming within the Next 10 Days

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - Morning analysis (Tuesday) indicates there is an area of increasing thunderstorm activity across the central and south-eastern Bahamas. This thunderstorm activity is in association with a upper level trough of low pressure interacting with a tropical wave. A look at environmental conditions around this system reveals that there is 30 to 40 knot west-south-westerly wind shear impacting this system and this is unfavourable for any sort of tropical development, according to Crown Weather.

“I suspect that we will see this thunderstorm activity continue throughout today and tonight across the south-eastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. As we head into Wednesday and Thursday, all of the model guidance, including the GFS, European and Canadian models forecast that this system will begin to track west-north-westward with a surface low pressure system forming by Thursday just east of Eleuthera and Great Abaco Islands.

“From there, the GFS and European models forecast this low pressure to track west-northwestward during Friday into Saturday reaching the South Carolina coastline as a weak low pressure system by late Saturday. The Canadian model guidance, on the other hand, forecasts this low pressure system to strengthen into a tropical storm as it crosses the Gulf Stream on Sunday into Monday and turns north-eastward and impacts eastern North Carolina as a tropical storm next Tuesday.

“What is notable is that the GFS and European model guidance forecasts a much quicker movement towards the South and North Carolina coast and thus is partially why it forecasts it to be a much weaker system as compared to the Canadian model, which forecasts a slower movement towards the US Southeast Coast which allows the system to organize and strengthen.

“Here Are My Thoughts On The First System: Even though the environmental conditions are currently unfavorable for the area of thunderstorms in the central and south-eastern Bahamas to develop, the wind shear conditions are forecast to become favorable for development by Saturday.

“The question is will the low pressure system already be inland over South and North Carolina (GFS/European model) by the time the environment becomes favorable or will it still be over the waters offshore of the Carolinas (Canadian model). Unfortunately, I can’t give you a conclusive answer as both scenarios are certainly plausible. What this means is that the formation of a tropical or sub-tropical storm remains possible between Friday and Sunday as this system tracks near the coasts of South and North Carolina.

“Even if we do not see tropical or sub-tropical development from this first system, it will still bring onshore winds of 15 to 25 mph along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina starting on Fridayand continuing through Saturday. These onshore winds of 20 to 30 mph could spread northward across coastal sections of the Mid-Atlantic states to as far north as the New Jersey coast by Monday and Tuesday. In addition to the onshore gusty winds, some rain could impact eastern North Carolina during Saturday night and Sunday. This rainfall could spread northward into the Mid-Atlantic States during Monday and Tuesday.

“Now, turning to a second potential system that could try to pull off some tropical mischief during the early to middle part of next week. The European model guidance is becoming fairly consistent in forecasting an area of disturbed weather to pull northward out of the central and western Caribbean into the Bahamas bynext Tuesdaywith this system tracking northward to near the coast of south-eastern North Carolina bynext Thursday. The GFS model guidance, on the other hand, forecasts no such second system with the Canadian model forecasting a tropical system to form to the north of Puerto Riconext Wednesdayand for that system to track north-northeastward to a position near Bermuda bynext Thursdayas a tropical storm.

“Here Are My Thoughts On The Second Possible System Lifting Across the Bahamas Early Next Week: What lends some support to the idea of tropical mischief tracking into the Bahamas from the Caribbean early next week is that both the GFS ensemble and the European ensemble model guidance forecasts there may be an area of lowered barometric pressures across the Bahamas throughout much of next week. So, this lends some support to the ideas from the European operational model as well as to the idea that there could be a second tropical system to keep an eye on next week.

“In addition to this, anything that lifts across the Bahamas and towards the US Southeast coast next week will produce areas of heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the much of the Bahamason MondayandTuesdayof next week and then possibly across parts of coastal North Carolina aroundWednesdayandThursdayof next week.

“In closing, it is obvious that there could be quite a bit to keep an eye on over the next 7 to 10 days from the US Southeast Coast through the Bahamas into the northern Caribbean. All of this will be monitored very closely and I will keep you updated on the latest,” Crown Weather concludes.

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Voice of the Nation Series 2 Successful. Next panel discussion in September

POND ISLAND - JCI LIVE Soualiga held its second edition, The Voice of The Nation with a Panel discussion with seven (7) Political Parties on Sint Maarten. The topic discussed was Education and Economics Affairs, the sustainable project is based on how JCI LIVE Soualiga analyse the needs in the communities create impact and awareness on Sint Maarten as well as promoting leadership.

This event took place at the University of St. Maarten on the 21st May, 2016 at 7pm.The different Parties Representatives were DP Giselle York-Missoudan S.M.C.P which was represented by Benjamin Bell, O.S.S.P represented by Elton Jones, NA represented by Dr. Rudolph Samuel, U.P represented by MP Tamara Leonard, CPA Charles Richardson, and H.O.P.E represented by Loekie Morales. The People from the different communities came out and give their opinions and share ideas and also posed questions during the event.

Each Panellist was given an equal platform to share their party’s goals and objectives towards education for our country Sint.Maarten. It is persuasively clear that now and in the future if given the opportunity to the representatives and also what the present government is working on to ensure sustainable development and economics growth on the island as members of parliament. The audience posed questions and give their feedback to the political parties. “The Voice of the Nation Series 2”turned out to be very successful, interesting and informative evening.

On behalf of leadership team of JCI LIVE Soualiga we would like to thank all Politicians that participated on behalf of their parties, salute to PJD2 Radio (lady grace) and SOS 95.9 (Billy D) for sponsoring our promotion for the event also the public for coming out to support this prestigious event.  The next edition 3 will be in September.

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Residents urged to prepare ahead of the 2016 hurricane season. Possible development of a system still remains

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – With the start of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season less than two weeks away, Antigua climatologist Dale Destin is calling on residents to prepare for the season and to do so early.

Dale said the best time to prepare is when there is no storm system around.  The stress level of preparation is low and is more able to think clearly.

The National Emergency Operations Centre of the Cayman Islands already started its annual hurricane exercise last week to test preparedness of emergency response groups.

Cayman emergency responders are preparing for an active hurricane season due to the fact that El Nino, a weather system which hampered the development of storm systems in 2015 is expected to diminish and lead to a La Nina which allows the Atlantic to become active with powerful storms.

In the meantime, tropical development remains possible this coming weekend from The Bahamas to the Eastern Gulf Of Mexico, according to Crown Weather.

“An upper level trough of low pressure is expected to track across the eastern United States and the western Atlantic over the next few days. This trough of low pressure is forecast by all of the forecast guidance to lift out and be replaced by a upper level ridge of high pressure by the middle to end of next week. It is expected, however, that a piece of energy will be left behind in the Bahamas by about Friday of next week where it will need to be monitored very closely for signs of tropical development next weekend in an area that stretches from the Bahamas westward to the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

“All of the latest model guidance, including the GFS, European and Canadian models, shows that there seems to be an increasing chance that we may see an area of disturbed weather form over the Bahamas during next weekend. From there, the GFS model guidance forecasts this disturbed weather will strengthen into a tropical cyclone in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Memorial Day and then meander around the Gulf of Mexico throughout the first 4 or 5 days of June.

“The European model guidance forecasts any area of disturbed weather may track across the Florida Peninsula on Memorial Day and become a broad area of low pressure in the north-eastern Gulf of Mexico by May 31st.

“The Canadian model guidance forecasts that an area of low pressure may form in the northern Bahamas next Sunday and then track north-north-eastward and strengthen into a tropical storm by Memorial Day as it tracks across eastern North Carolina.

“Turning to the ensemble guidance, the GFS ensemble model guidance forecasts low pressure to form near Grand Bahama Island next Sunday. A majority of the ensemble members forecast that this low pressure system may track north-north-westward just off of Florida’s east coast on Memorial Day. Ultimately, a majority of the GFS ensemble guidance members forecasts this system will come ashore along the South Carolina coast on May 31st. It should be noted that a few of the GFS ensemble guidance members show a track into the eastern Gulf of Mexico rather than a track towards the US Southeast Atlantic coast.

“Here Are My Thoughts: It needs to be emphasized that we should not focus on any one particular model guidance forecast because these forecasts will change in the coming days. Instead, we need to focus on the upcoming weather pattern change into one that features a upper level high pressure system over the north-eastern United States and a piece of energy that sits over the Bahamas next weekend. This type of weather pattern has, in the past, produced tropical systems and this is what I’m looking at for next weekend rather than concentrating on any one particular model forecast.

“At this point, I think that at the minimum we will see an area of disturbed weather persist over the Bahamas and parts of the Florida Peninsula starting around next Saturday and then remain over the Bahamas and the Florida Peninsula through next Sunday and Memorial Day. Whether this area of disturbed weather strengthens into a tropical depression or a tropical storm remains to be seen and it is something that will need to be monitored closely.”

Crown Weather puts development between 10 and 20 percent chance that we will see a tropical depression or a tropical storm form somewhere between the Bahamas and the eastern Gulf of Mexico between May 28th and June 1st. “If we continue to see consistency in the weather data that supports tropical development over the Memorial Day weekend, then the chances for tropical development will be increased,” Crown Weather concludes.

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MP Wescot-Williams cautions against presenting re-instatement of St. Maarten on UN list of non-self-governing territory

PHILIPSBURG –I believe MP (Ed Member of Parliament) Cornelius de Weever got a little overzealous when he suggested placing the matter of reinstating St. Maarten on the UN's list of non-self-governing territories on the IPKO (Ed Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Consultation) agenda for next week. A move promptly endorsed by MP Meyers. This basically means re-listing St. Maarten as a colony,” Democratic Party (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams said in a press release on Sunday evening.


“For starters, the IPKO agenda is determined by consensus of all 4 parliaments.
More importantly however is the fact that in the context this proposal was brought by the Independence for St. Maarten Foundation, the reinstatement is to "facilitate international support for our quest for political freedom".

“This decision on political freedom (independence) however is one yet to be taken by the people of St. Maarten. The parliament in my opinion therefore is not (yet) in any position to lobby reinstatement of St. Maarten in the UN listing of non-self-governing territories.

“So I caution against, even with our Curacao and Aruba counterparts, presenting this issue as one agreed to by the parliament and people of St. Maarten. Again, in my opinion, 6 years of country status are insufficient to start on a new political process.

“Not only that, but the many challenges ahead require our best efforts and undivided attention. One of those challenges is the devising  of a roadmap to take St. Maarten to the next stage of its development. A roadmap, I again emphasize, that should place a lot of emphasis on nation building, inclusion and social cohesion,” MP Sarah Wescot-Williams pointed out.

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Gasoline and diesel pump prices increase on Friday

PHILIPSBURG – On Friday, May 20, fuel pump prices will be adjusted upward for gasoline and diesel. 

The current price of unleaded gasoline is Naf.1.721 per liter; the new price will be Naf.1.763 per liter.

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.164 per liter; the new price will be Naf.1.222 per liter.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

On the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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Police reacts to illegal use of official police logo

PHILIPSBURG - On Tuesday May 17th the Police management team has been confronted with the issue that a poster designed by an unknown person or persons has been publicized on which the KPSM (Police Force Sint Maarten) logo and a picture of a police vehicle are used as part of the promotion.

This poster is a public invitation to join the promoters for a “Happy Hour” from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Casa Blanca every first Friday of every month in support “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day”.

The police management team totally denies having any knowledge of, any involvement in the production of this poster and more over giving authorization to anyone, any business or businesses to use the official police logo as part of any type business promotion.

The official police logo does not belong to any private entity, but is property of the government of Country Sint Maarten. This logo should not be used for other purposes than it is designed for, without the proper authorization.

The police management will be contacting the person or persons responsible for this promotional poster, to have it removed form the Internet and to explain the negative impact and negative consequences this promotion poster could have.

The police force is prepared to take all legal actions against anyone who uses the police logo in an unlawful manner. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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UP Party Board Refutes MP Lake Statement on Payment of Dues

PHILIPSBURG – The Board of the United People’s Party (UP) has taken note of a statement made by Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake on Sunday at a press conference concerning the payment of party dues, the UP stated in a press statement on Tuesday.

"UP candidates who ran in the 2014 parliamentary elections were asked to make a monthly contribution to the party in the form of dues in order to cover the costs of campaign material for the candidates.

"Each candidate signed the automatic bank transfer authorization, but if MP Lake had looked carefully at his bank statements, he would have noticed that nothing was deducted from his bank account.

"MP Maurice Lake also has not officially resigned from the UP Party as we have nothing officially on file.

"The UP Board emphatically states that the Party has not received any dues paid in cash or by cheque or via bank transfer into the UP Party bank account since Lake has been an MP.

"The UP Board finds it very strange that MP Lake would make such a public statement when he knows that it is baseless.  The media should question the MP further and ask him to show proof of payments being made," the UP Party press release said.

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