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Shops take proper action following the Labor Inspection's observations

CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS - During the period from September 2016 through April 2017 the Labor Inspection carried out an inspection project in the retail industry in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The companies were first informed about what inspectors will inspect during an inspection through meetings. Furthermore, information material was made available to the companies.

Subsequently, 86 inspections were conducted. The Labor Inspection detected one or more violations at 83 companies. What stands out is that many violations concerned primary safety aspects such as the absence of a first aid kit and fire extinguishing equipment.

Meanwhile, a large number of re-inspections have been conducted, during which the Labor Inspection concluded that the companies had taken proper action to resolve the violations.

The Labor Inspection thinks that this deserves a compliment and thus also acknowledges that cooperation is important to keep everyone safe and healthy!

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Tiger mosquito spreads in Weert but poses no danger, say authorities

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch consumer product safety board NWVA is taking measures to prevent the spread of tiger mosquitos to residential areas in Weert, public broadcaster NOS reports.

The insects, which can carry and transmit viruses, were first found in a business park in Weert in July but it is unclear where they came from. Earlier instances of the insect could be traced back to the import of tropical plants and car tyres.

The inspection says the measures are to prevent the tiger mosquito from settling here, NOS writes. According to public health watchdog RIVM, the chances that the tiger mosquito will actually transfer diseases such as dengue fever, zika or chikungunya is negligible.

‘These viruses do not occur here so the mosquito can’t pick them up. It is of course theoretically possible that they have picked up a virus elsewhere and that is why we do these checks.

But in practice we have never found a mosquito carrying a virus,’ a spokesperson for the RIVM told NOS. The NWVA is spraying the area between the residential areas and the business park and is removing possible breeding spots like pots and tyres containing stagnant water.

It has also asked the public to remove buckets and rain barrels. Last year the NVWA found a dozen tiger mosquitos in Veenendaal but none were spotted this year. The only other occurrence was at a flower auction in Naaldwijk in June of this year where the NVWA caught an adult tiger mosquito in one of its traps. (DutchNews)

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‘Hundreds’ of pigs die in yet another factory farm fire

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Just weeks after 20,000 pigs died in a fire at a factory farm in Gelderland, ‘hundreds’ of pigs have died in a blaze in two barns in Agelo in Overijssel.

At first, the fire brigade said nearly 8,000 pigs had died but this was later revised down after the farmer said ‘several hundred’ pigs were in the barns at the time. A few animals are known to have escaped but the actual death toll remains unclear.

The cause of the fire, which broke out shortly before midnight, is unknown. The barns were built in 2011 and the fire spread quickly from one to the other. In total, some 50 firemen were involved in tackling the blaze.

Animal welfare lobby group Wakker Dier keeps a running tally of factory farm fire deaths which shows some 200,000 animals have been killed so far this year. That means 2017 is likely to be the worst year for factory farm fires since 2011, when 319,000 pigs and chickens were killed.

Although higher safety standards were introduced in 2014, many older barns are still very unsafe, the organisation says. In addition, new barns do not have to have proper sprinkler systems or smoke alarms.

The pro-animal PvdD introduced a motion to parliament at the beginning of July calling for better fire safety at factory farms, but it failed to win enough support. The three Christian parties and two Liberal parties D66 and VVD voted against the measure. (DutchNews)

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Country-wide Load Shedding Set for Monday due to Generator Challenges

PHILIPSBURG - NV GEBE wishes to advise its valued customers that due to difficulty with their generation units they are left with no other alternative but to resort to load shedding today, Monday, August 14, 2017. 

All areas will be affected sometime during the day for a period of 90 minutes.  Areas will experience interruptions more than once depending on the load. 

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by these unplanned outages and assure you that we are making every effort to remedy the problems. 

“Updates will be made via our Media houses,” the Monday morning NV GEBE press release concludes. 

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Suspected Turkish drug trafficker to be extradited to Turkey

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands can extradite a man wanted in Turkey for drug smuggling, judges in The Hague decided on Friday. Turkey had been asking for the extradition of the man, who was arrested on Dutch soil, since 2012.

Osman A. is accused of drug trafficking between the Netherlands and Turkey and is also wanted there for being a member of a criminal organisation.

A has been resisting extradition because he is afraid he will not get a fair trial and that his human rights will be violated. He also thinks a Turkish prison will not provide the treatment he needs for the psychological problems he claims he is suffering from, the NRC said.

However, a court in The Hague has now decided the Turkish authorities have provided sufficient guarantees to safeguard the judicial process. The suspect will be also be allowed to petition to serve his sentence in a Dutch prison.

The Netherlands stopped sending people back to Turkey in the wake of the attempted coup on July 15, 2016 but resumed them last month. (DutchNews)

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Invest 99-L Located 200 Miles to the Northeast of the Lesser Antilles

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - Invest 99-L is barely hanging on as an upper level low pressure system just to the north of the disturbance is imparting 20-25 knots of wind shear over Invest 99-L, Crown Weather reported on Thursday.

“Satellite derived wind data indicates that there is no well-defined center of circulation with Invest 99-L and instead there is a sharp trough of low pressure associated with Invest 99-L. That upper level low pressure system that is located to the north of Invest 99-L is limiting the amount of development Invest 99-L can undergo. As long as that upper level low pressure system hangs around, we will see little or no tropical development from Invest 99-L.

“A majority of the model guidance, including the European model which had previously been forecasting tropical development, do not forecast any sort of tropical development from Invest 99-L. The reason for this is because the interaction with that upper level low pressure system will just be too much for Invest 99-L.

“The exception to this is the Canadian model guidance which forecasts that Invest 99-L will develop into a tropical storm by Sunday near the northern Bahamas. From there, the Canadian model guidance forecasts that Invest 99-L will curve north and northeast just east of the Carolina coastline during Monday and Tuesday as a tropical storm,” Crown Weather reports.

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Sale of Asian private banking unit boosts ABN Amro’s earnings

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – ABN Amro reported on Wednesday second-quarter 2017 net earnings of €960m, a 45% increase over the €391m net reported in the year-earlier period.

The Amsterdam-based banking group said the sharply higher earnings were due in part to a €200m book profit on the sale of its Asian private banking activities. In addition, reduced costs also benefited the profitability of the bank, it said in a statement.

The continued growth of the Dutch economy and the rising housing market also boosted earnings, ABN Amro said. In June, the Dutch government further reduced its shareholding in ABN Amro, selling a block representing 7% of the bank’s outstanding shares for €1.5bn.

The state still holds 63% of ABN Amro shares. Sales so far have yielded the state more than €6bn. However, it is unlikely that the government will be fully reimbursed for its 2008 rescue effort which cost taxpayers €21.7bn, experts say. (DutchNews)

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Two Dutchmen arrested for sending drugs, including a ton of MDMA, to Australia

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two Dutch nationals have been arrested as part of an international investigation into hard drugs smuggling from the Netherlands to Australia, the Dutch public prosecution department said on Tuesday.

In total, 17 people have been arrested. Ten people were arrested in Sydney and five in Dubai in what Australian police say is a ‘huge blow’ to two major international drug syndicates operating in Australia.

The Dutch suspects are a 33-year-old man from Utrecht and a 47-year-old man from Huizen. They were identified after Australian police asked the Dutch authorities to investigate the source of the drugs.

Between 22 May and 18 July, the Dutch police intercepted and seized a total of 998 kilos of MDMA, 116 kilos of cocaine, and 15 kilos of crystal methamphetamine before the narcotics could reach Australia, the public prosecution department said.

Australian police say in total, 1.8 tonnes of MDMA and 136 kilos of cocaine were stopped from reaching Australia. The Utrecht man is suspected of planning to send 500 kilos of MDMA to Australia, the man from Huizenaar the rest of the drugs.

Cash and hashish were also seized during raids on their homes. According to the Australian media, the Dutch nationals do not face extradition. (DutchNews)

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Dutch holiday house sales rise 20%, popular alternative for ‘dead’ savings

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Holiday houses are an increasingly popular investment now that interest rates on savings are so low, real estate agents association NVM said on Monday.

In total, 3,700 holiday homes were sold last year, a rise of 20%. ‘A holiday home is an attractive and tangible alternative for having lots of money in a ‘virtually dead’ bank account,’ spokesman Roeland Kimman said.

‘The return is not directly in euros but is more in doing something which relaxes you in fresh air, with the sun, sea and woods.’ The average price of a holiday home last year was €140,000 but rise to over €300,000 in popular coastal places such as the Wadden Islands.

Nevertheless, the average price is still down some 17% on the peak of €170,000 recorded in 2008. (DutchNews)

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Registration of sex workers breaches right to privacy, says court

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Compulsory registration of sex workers by local councils in order to regulate prostitution breaches privacy rules, Trouw reported on Friday.

The decision to ban the registration equirement some local councils impose on prostitutes was taken recently in two separate rulings by privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) and a ruling by the Amsterdam administrative court on Wednesday.

Registration means that sensitive data, such as information on the person’s health, criminal past and ethnicity are recorded and this is against the law, even if it is done under the guise of combating exploitation and human trafficking, Trouw writes.

In the Amsterdam case, brought by brothel owners against the local council, the judge decided that holding on to the information given by sex workers during the obligatory interview with the owner of the premises may not be kept and shared with the local council for the purpose of checking up on the sex workers.

The AP decided that The Hague local council is also in breach of the privacy law by registering sensitive information. There is no legal ground for this, the AP said. But in practice prostitutes were forced to register, according to sex workers’ union Proud.

In a press release, the Haagse Stadspartij said the council has yet to answer questions about why it circumvented privacy rules, what sort of information has been gathered and what the consequences were of sex workers refusing to submit to ‘an interview’.

‘We support the fight against abuse of sex workers but that doesn’t mean their rights can be compromised. Like all other citizens of The Hague they have a right to privacy,’ Haagse Stadspartij spokesperson Fatima Faid said.

The AP also made short shrift of Utrecht local council’s plans to not only introduce compulsory registration but also to allow the authorities to gather information about sex workers without their knowledge, for instance by monitoring prostitution zones.

Humiliating

Registration is a moot point with prostitutes, who, according to Proud, feel uncomfortable to be in a database and experience the personal questions about their sexual and medical history as humiliating, the paper writes.

An earlier attempt to create a national database to get a handle on prostitution have also floundered for privacy reasons. But according to Utrecht local council, which has said it will fight the AP’s decision, there is a difference between the national and the local council database.

The aim of the national database was to allow punters to check whether they were dealing with legal prostitution. Utrecht says it is focusing on the well-being of the sex workers themselves. According to Mayor Jan van Zanen registration could be one of the main weapons against human trafficking, the paper said. (DutchNews)

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