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Woman admits leaving baby to die on cruise ship docked here

HAMMOND, INDIANA--A Northwest Indiana woman has pleaded guilty to giving birth on Carnival Dream and leaving the baby girl to die under a bed.

The deceased infant was discovered in a guest cabin by a Carnival Dream employee while the ship was in port in St. Maarten on October 12, 2011. The cruise line informed authorities in St. Maarten about the incident. That same day Dutch authorities took custody of the infant's body and interviewed the mother. The mother, who remained in St. Maarten for a time, returned to the United States later.

Alicia Keir (24) of DeMotte, Indiana, entered a plea to an involuntary manslaughter charge earlier this week in a US federal court, the Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this week.

Court records show Keir gave birth in her stateroom in October 2011, wrapped the baby in a towel and hid her under the bed, The Times newspaper of Munster, Inidana, reported.

"She did not move. She did not make a sound," Keir told US District Judge Rudy Lozano, saying she had known the baby was born alive. "I should have gotten help," she said.

A cleaning crew found the baby dead the next day when the ship arrived at port in St. Maarten. Keir flew home from St. Maarten after the infant was discovered.

A doctor found that the baby had died from exposure and lack of care, US Attorney Randall Stewart said. Court records show the baby was born without any diseases or defects. Keir said she had known she was pregnant, but had not told her travel companions.

Federal prosecutors said they had jurisdiction in the case because of Keir's Indiana residency, even though the baby had died at sea. Keir faces up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to US $250,000 when she is sentenced August 20. Her plea agreement states that prosecutors and the defence can argue for what they believe is an appropriate sentence, the AP report said.

Autopsy confirms crime in death of Dawn Beach body

PHILIPSBURG--An autopsy performed on the badly decomposed body of the unidentified corpse found in Dawn Beach on April 29 has confirmed that a crime was committed.

Prosecutor Tineke Kamps told The Daily Herald late last night that although the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition the Dutch Forensic Institute, which conducted the autopsy in the Netherlands on Wednesday, had managed to confirm that a crime had taken place. Kamps declined to give details of the probable cause of death. The autopsy also showed that the body was that of a male.

While the identity of the victim is still unknown, the autopsy also confirmed that the victim had a petite physique. The victim had a length of about 165 to 170 metres and was wearing size 32 jeans. He was also wearing size eight working booths. The victim's race could not be ascertained last night, but this information is expected to be provided in the coming days. The Prosecutor's Office received the findings of the autopsy on Friday.

Authorities are still seeking the public's help in identifying the victim. Kamps said anyone missing a person fitting the description of the victim should contact the police. Any witnesses to the crime also should contact the police.

Kamps said it would be very difficult to investigate the crime without knowing the identity and surroundings of the victim. Anyone with information can contact the Police Force or the police tip line tel. 9300.

First step for islands’ free-trade zone at Kingdom Conference

THE HAGUE--The four countries of the Dutch Kingdom are planning to sign a cooperation agreement in the area of competition at the Kingdom Conference in Curaçao on June 16 in anticipation of a Dutch Caribbean free-trade zone. The website “Doing Business in the Kingdom” will be launched to facilitate trade with and via the Dutch Caribbean.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated this in a letter which was sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday regarding the 2015 Kingdom Conference. The Second Chamber meets with Plasterk next Wednesday about the upcoming Kingdom Conference.

In his letter, Plasterk announced that Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands intended to seal a deal in the area of competition (mededinging) which would give a positive impulse to the economic development and cooperation of the countries and strengthen the hub-function of the Dutch Caribbean islands.

According to Plasterk, Aruba and Curaçao have nearly completed their legislation in the area of competition. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Market (ACM), a Dutch organisation which ensures fair competition between businesses, and protects consumer interests, will support the overseas countries to set up a Dutch Caribbean free-trade zone.

A work group with members of all four Kingdom countries was installed to study the advantages and disadvantages of introducing a free-trade zone and to present recommendations to stimulate trade and entrepreneurship. There is also a work group that is looking at economic cooperation.

“A first analysis of the possible free-trade zone in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom shows that this is a highly complicated affair, especially because of the diversity of financial systems of the individual countries. Further research is needed to get more clarity on the possibilities. Aruba and Curaçao plan to secure an agreement at the Kingdom Conference on the lifting of import duties for locally produced goods,” stated Plasterk.

The minister explained that on his request a study took place recently to analyse the experiences of Dutch and Dutch Caribbean businesses as to their trade relations with Latin America, both from the Netherlands and via the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The study painted a global picture of the existing organisations, instruments and facilities aimed at improving trade, especially with Latin America.

The study showed the need for one central organisation aimed at trade with and via the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The results of this study will be shared at the Kingdom Conference so the partners can decide on which follow-up steps will be taken.

A first step will be the website “Doing Business in the Kingdom,” which will be launched at the Kingdom Conference. The website will contain information for businesses, investors and organisations about doing business with and via the Dutch Caribbean.

Also discussed at the Kingdom Conference will be the steps that the individual countries have taken to improve children’s rights and which actions will be taken for next year. The countries will each present an addendum to the existing Plan of Approach.

A decision will be taken on a number of joint actions that will be taken in the area of children’s rights. These actions will include the organising of a safety-net conference on sensible leisure activities and day-time arrangements for children, as well as the installation of an expert committee which will, in consultation with the community, develop a vision on the role of parents in the upbringing of children.

Plasterk couldn’t give any details on another topic that will be discussed at the Kingdom Conference, namely the setting up of a dispute arrangement for the Kingdom. He explained that he could provide details on the state of affairs on this issue because consultations between the countries were still ongoing.

The work group that deals with the dispute arrangement has already met to discuss an initial paper that Plasterk has prepared on this subject. Based on this paper, the work group has made an inventory of the standpoints on the content of the dispute arrangement, the minister stated.

The work group cohesion in the Kingdom has been looking at new initiatives to promote the cohesion in the Kingdom and is expected to present two proposals at the Kingdom Conference: a protocol and an arrangement that will promote and facilitate the cooperation among social organisations in the four countries.

Plasterk warned that this should not result in the setting up of a new (governmental) organisation or an additional layer of government. He stated that the initiative for such would remain with the “social midfield” with government limiting its task to facilitating and arranging the connections between the social organisations.

“No unnecessary bureaucracy and plan-making,” stated Plasterk, who added that the facilitating role of government meant that it would not enter into new subsidy relations with social organisations. The intention of the protocol and arrangement was for social organisations to get in touch with each other and to assist each other in the execution of projects that promoted the cohesion in the Kingdom.

Cooperation in the Kingdom in the area of health care will first be discussed at a conference in Aruba from June 1 to 4, which will be attended by Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers.

The focus of the Dutch Government will be to promote the structural cooperation between the countries in the area of healthcare, which is also in the interest of the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

In order to give content to this cooperation, the Dutch Caribbean countries will have to make choices which are necessary because of the insular character, the limited size of the population and restricted financial means, Plasterk stated. This will ultimately benefit the quality of health care. At the Kingdom Conference, the countries will determine whether there is sufficient basis to materialise a structural cooperation in the health care area.

In conclusion, Plasterk stated that he would discuss the possibility of establishing a broad Kingdom Integrity Committee with the other countries at the Kingdom Conference, according to a proposal of Member of the Second Chamber Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA.

Friday blackout caused by over-heated cable

PHILIPSBURG--GEBE promptly provided an explanation of Friday’s widespread blackout that lasted approximately two hours for most consumers. The company said it had started with a transformer cable overheating.

“On May 15, 2015, at 11:32am, NV GEBE technicians detected smoke in the high tension room. This was caused by the overheating of a cable from a transformer,” a company press release read.

“Attempting to switch power to a second transformer failed, causing a total blackout. Technicians managed to connect power to the alternate transformer and by 1:05pm more than 30 per cent was switched on. By 1:30pm all cables with the exception of Oyster Pond and Belvedere were back in service. At 1:45pm all cables were in full operation and working to full capacity.”

SMART hosts 14th annual tradeshow

page5e296MAHO--The on-going fourteenth St. Martin/St. Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART), dubbed the most important tradeshow of the Northeastern Caribbean, hosted its main day of activities at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino yesterday, May 14.

Although attendance was not as high as the 2014 event, which boasted one of the best turnouts in years, even participants who did not make any new connections pointed to the importance and usefulness of the annual event that targets local, regional and international tourism stakeholders.

However, noticeable was the lack of participants from South America that had been a major characteristic in 2014, and the non-presence of some regional islands. The South American market typically is targeted both for its spending power and as a way to reduce seasonality.

"It's all about the networking in this business," said one participant. "It is a bit slower this year, but this is an essential event."

Another said the smaller turnout would not mean that the fewer connections made would not "translate into business."

Yet another said that although no concrete business deals had been made as a result of last year's event, the exposure still translated to higher awareness in certain markets, which in turn translated to business picking up in general.

Many others pointed to the fact that they normally would not be able to interact with existing partners on a personal level – usually doing business through e-mail and phone calls – and said they appreciated being able to meet and greet face-to-face.

One representative of a well-established local hotel said the property had made a few new contacts, it had been a year of improvements and renovations, and SMART also functioned as a good platform to share the property's many updates.

New faces such as representatives of Surinam Airways, an interline partner of Winair, said they were happy with the tradeshow, had been approached by a variety of professionals despite not having booked any appointments in advance, and encouragingly had been asked many times whether they would offer direct flights.

The airline representatives were joined by Mets Travel & Tours, which they said was Surinam's biggest tour operator. The group was invited to visit Saba by another SMART attendee, the Saba Tourism Board. Island-hopping is an activity facilitated by the event, although organised individually.

The various booths displayed their products by means of decoration, props, video and printed promotional materials. Booth-holders could be seen sharing information, answering questions and negotiating throughout the day.

Simpson Bay Resort and Marina had an especially grand booth, displaying mood-boards in large banners and a 16-panel LED-lit video screen designed by newly recruited sales and marketing specialists. Representatives said by late afternoon that the resort had been approached by about 25 travel agents and other tourism stakeholders, three of which were already partners and had secured ten site inspections for the following day.

Many booth holders still managed a busy day, but as there were more vendors than suppliers, the suppliers had by far a busier schedule.

Noticeable to participants was the lack of representation from islands such as St. Barths, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Tortola. Saba was represented, but less than expected. As for the lack of South American presence pointed out by participants, there were only one or two this year including CVC, Brazil's largest tour operator, which was also present last year.

One regional representative, a long-time SMART attendee, commended organisers for trying to improve the event every year, but also said the event seemed to be losing the South American market, which had had much stronger representation some 6-7 years ago. He also shared the opinion that the regional marketing "should be more aggressive or innovative, because some islands feel marginalised."

St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) Executive Director Anenda Zaandam told The Daily Herald in an invited comment that there was indeed a lesser turnout than expected and there were always areas to improve on, but said she was satisfied with the event, as it still "served the purpose that it was designed for," this being networking, showcasing and fostering business opportunities.

"Some years they can make it, and some years they can't," she said concerning the islands, also mentioning that St. Barths had been represented, although not actively on the trade floor.

She also said the product was being revisited to better encompass more neighbouring islands and pointed out that for nearby islands with tight budgets that could not be represented at major international tradeshows, SMART could be a great steppingstone and provided exposure to many of the same markets.

She also pointed out that there were more local vendors this year compared to last year, and that these offered products both hotels and visitors could use, including resort wear, beautification services and skincare products. The promotion of these types of products could make for a more comprehensive tourism product, as many of them tend to be imported.

Many of the participants approached by this newspaper did not attend the workshops, themed "New Millennium Business Practices," because they said the focus was on networking. Some said they had booked too many appointments to include any workshops in the schedule. One session was said to have been cancelled due to low attendance.

Following the busy day, a farewell party was held at Beach Plaza Hotel in Marigot.

The three-day event kicked off on Wednesday with a workshop and a grand welcome reception at Sonesta's newly launched Ocean Point, which is connected to the main venue, Sonesta Maho. The reception centred on showcasing the island's fusion of cultures, represented through staff presentation, décor, food and beverages.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Claret Connor and St. Martin Tourism Office President Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool addressed the gathering, which included dignitaries such as Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs and Members of Parliament Cornelius de Weever and Christophe Emmanuel.

Buyers and suppliers will have one last chance to network and attend a workshop today, before SMART 2015 concludes. Individually organised site inspections and tours also will form a highlight of the last day.

SMART is organised by SHTA and Association des Hoteliers de St. Martin, in conjunction with the St. Martin Office du Tourisme and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

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