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Coalition talks stall: ChristenUnie and D66 decide not to work together

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Liberal Democratic Party D66 and the minor Christian party ChristenUnie have decided they cannot work together in a coalition government.

Party leaders Alexander Pechtold and Gert-Jan Segers met chief negotiator Edith Schippers on Tuesday afternoon but decided after hours of talks not to press ahead with formal negotiations together with the VVD and Christian Democrats.

‘It is not about personal positions,’ ChristenUnie chief Segers said. ‘But we have looked at we have in common on balance. Then we looked at each other and said ‘there is no point in this’.’ ‘We’ve taken time to look at it but we have not made a breakthrough,’ D66 leader Pechtold said.

Pechtold had said several times that he could not imagine being in a coalition with ChristenUnie because of the two parties’ differing positions on ethical subjects. The legalization of soft drugs and family income policy were other crucial issues.

Majority cabinet

Schippers told reporters on Monday afternoon that a combination of the four parties is the only option for a majority cabinet. With both the Socialists and the Labour party ruling themselves out of the talks, there is no other option open, Schippers said.

The Netherlands has been without a government since the March 15 general election. Talks with the VVD, CDA, D66 and left-wing greens GroenLinks collapsed a week ago. Schippers is expected to report back to parliament as soon as possible about the results of the second round of talks and what should happen next. (DutchNews)

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Central Committee meeting on NV GEBE set for Wednesday. Asset Recovery Team Plenary Session continues Tuesday

PHILIPSBURG – The Central Committee will meet in a session on May 24. The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, who is the Shareholder Representative of GEBE, as well as the Management Board of NV GEBE will be present.

The Central Committee meeting was requested by Members of Parliament, F.A. Meyers, T.E. Heyliger, S.M. Bijlani, T.E. Leonard, and C.M.M. Connor. This is a continuation meeting of Monday, May 15, 2017.

The continuation meeting has been set for Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 14.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is:

Deliberation on the current state of affairs of GEBE.

The House of Parliament will sit in an urgent plenary public session on May 23. The Minister of Justice will be present.

This meeting was requested Members of Parliament, F.A. Meyers, F.G. Richardson, drs. R.E. Samuel, and P.F.M. Geerlings, is a continuation of the meeting that started on Monday, May 22, 2017.

The urgent plenary public meeting will reconvene on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 14.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is:

Recent developments within the Justice Ministry including the installation of an Asset Recovery Team by the Minister of Justice and Public Prosecutor.

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

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Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Companies which specialise in providing housing for students are breaking the law by forcing them to continue to pay for a room if they leave before the end of the contract, tenants’ association Woonbond has told Trouw.

Students who come to the Netherlands for a couple of months – some 31,000 this year – can get a room straight away but the contract obliges them to pay full wack if they leave before their time is up.

Woonbond, supported by student organisations, thinks the situation is unfair on the students and is preparing to take the landlords to court. The law stipulates that temporary contracts can be terminated early, the Woonbond claims, and says landlords are breaking the law.

Student housing umbrella group Kences says the short-stay contracts offered students are not ideal but that they have no other option. It argues that housing providers have agreed with universities and colleges that foreign students have a room the moment they arrive.

If a student leaves early, the room cannot be rented to someone else because it needs to be available for the next batch of foreign students, Kences says. Rooms not homes

The organisation also says the contracts are legitimate because students rooms are not independent homes.

The Woonbond and the student organisations have urged Kences to come up with creative solutions to the problem. ‘International students are a vulnerable group in the housing market. They don’t know what is and isn’t allowed,’ a Woonbond spokesperson told the paper.

But according to Kences director Ardin Mourik, the situation for foreign students may well get worse if they are allowed to stop paying. ‘Providers will no longer be able to guarantee rooms for foreign students and then where will they live?’ the paper quotes Mourik as saying. (DutchNews)

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Open your windows (but lock your doors): crime drops in the Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Crime decreased by eight percent across the Netherlands, dropping even more in big cities, according to the annual crime map published by the AD newspaper.

The paper has published a colour-coded map of Dutch regions based on 2016 police data on ten different types of crime including house burglary, car theft, abuse, and vandalism.

They are weighted according to the number of people in each area compared with crime levels, and also on how much the misdemeanours impact victims – so physical abuse is worse than issuing threats.

Amsterdam is once again ‘crime capital’ of the Netherlands, the paper says, but it highlights a perplexing rise of criminality in Littenseradiel, a small Friesian community of 29 villages and 26 neighbourhoods which was safest place in the round-up for years but has dropped out of the top ten due to a rash of burglaries and an increase in physical abuse.

This, it says, is part of a pattern where ‘small towns find it harder to reduce criminality and keep it low’: even though cities are, on average, riskier, crime has dropped in all places with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Over the country, home break-ins dropped by 14%, pickpocketing by 13% and aggravated theft by 12%. The safest place in the Netherlands, according to the list, is Tubbergen, which lies in the east of the country between Almelo and the German border. (DutchNews)

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Living longer: Dutch centenarian population doubles in 20 years

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – On 1 January, there were 2,225 people over the age of 100 living in the Netherlands, 142 more than on the same date in 2016 and more than double the total of 20 years ago, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.

The number of people passing the 100 mark equates to 128 per million inhabitants. As rosy as the figures may appear to be, the Netherlands is ranked only 18th in Europe.

The European list is topped by Greece (565 per million), Portugal and France. The CBS says the number of centenarians in the Netherlands is expected to pass the 4,000 mark in 2031.

Women account for twice as many of the over-100s as men. The number of people in the Netherlands passing the 80-year mark also increased but at a slower pace to 642,000 per million in the past 20 years. The number of people in  their 90s rose by 90% to 112,000 per million. (DutchNews)

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More Movement for the Elderly on Wednesday with Dance and Info Session on Parkinson’s

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – More Movement for the Elderly, will take place on Wednesday, May 17 with a dance/information session about Parkinson’s disease. 

Senior citizens are invited to the John Larmonie Center, Longwall Road, Philipsburg, for More Movement for the Elderly Fitness at the National Institute of the Arts (NIA) who is coordinating the dance session.

The Parkinson’s Café/Anja Bronius information/dance session will be from 11.00am to 12.30pm on the topic ‘Parkinson and Speech Therapy.  Right after the Café, there will be Parkinson’s and Dance until 1.00pm.

To stay healthy or to improve health, older adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: dance, aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

Older adults aged 60 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily.

The More Movement for the Elderly is a one-year campaign organized and coordinated by Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, with the participation of the following stakeholders: White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF), Windward Islands Physical Therapist Association (WIPTA), I&I Fitness, NIA and School for Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning (SCELL) of the University of St. Martin (USM).

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Party leaders to meet to discuss next steps after Dutch coalition talks flop

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – MPs from all parties will meet parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next stage in the cabinet coalition process, following the collapse of talks on Monday evening.

Discussions between the two Liberal parties VVD and D66, the Christian Democrats and GroenLinks had been ongoing since the March 15 general election but fell apart over the subject of immigration.

According to one report, the real stumbling block was how to deal with future streams of migrants from Africa but the party leaders themselves have given little detail. Chief negotiator Edith Schippers is expected to brief MPs on the collapse today or tomorrow, after which MPs will hold a debate.

The leaders of all four parties involved in the talks refused to blame anyone party for the failure to reach agreement and all said the decision to call a halt was mutual. Schippers told reporters on Monday evening that the differences in some policy areas had turned out to be too wide to breach.

‘Migration proved to be a bridge too far,’ she said. ‘We have not been able to reach a joint basic decision.’ Other policy areas such as climate change and income policy are also difficult subjects to reach agreement on, she said. ‘You have seen the election manifestos. In some areas the gap [between the parties] is just too wide,’ Schippers said.

Migration has been discussed several times in the 18 days of negotiations, the former health minister said, adding that ‘we’ve tried to do all we can to make this work.’

ChristenUnie

Commentators say the small progressive religious party ChristenUnie, which has five MPs, is likely to be invited to join the talks instead of GroenLinks. However a coalition involving ChristenUnie would only have a majority of one seat in the lower house of parliament and the senate, which would make it vulnerable on controversial issues.

In addition, the party is left-leaning on immigration and refugee policy and does not agree with D66 on euthanasia and other ethical questions. Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration PVV said on Twitter that is pleased the talks had collapsed.

‘The PVV, as the second biggest party in parliament, is ready and willing to talk,’ he said. (DutchNews)

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Student charged with assault over Vindicat initiation ritual

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 24-year-old member of an undergraduate society is facing criminal proceedings over an incident at an initiation ceremony that left a fellow student with a serious head injury.

The public prosecution service launched an investigation in October after an applicant to Groningen’s Vindicat fraternity allegedly had his head stamped on. On Monday it announced that the suspect had been charged with serious assault.

No date has yet been set for a court hearing. The incident prompted calls for initiation rituals at Dutch university societies to be better monitored or banned. Three Amsterdam students ended up in hospital last September after swimming in canals or sleeping rough among the bins in order to join a society.

The alleged victim of the incident in Groningen initially declined to report the matter to the police because the society wanted to deal with it through its own disciplinary procedures.

But following an intervention by the city’s mayor Peter den Oudsten complaints were filed and a criminal investigation was launched. Vindicat has since deleted a clause in its constitution that forbids members from speaking out about the initiation rituals under threat of a €25,000 fine. (DutchNews)

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A Tropical Wave Entering the Eastern Caribbean Will Help to Bring Increased Rainfall Next Week

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - Satellite imagery and weather analysis indicates that there are two tropical waves that Crown Weather is watching right now, the weather service said on Saturday.

“The first is located in the eastern Caribbean along the 65 West Longitude line and the second is located just east of the Lesser Antilles along the 57 West Longitude line. Strong westerly wind shear is impacting much of the Caribbean right now and tropical development is highly unlikely with either of these tropical waves.

“The reason why I am keeping an eye on them is because it appears that they will bring an energy kick to help and develop either one broad area of low pressure or multiple little low pressure systems in the central and southwestern Caribbean by about Tuesday and Wednesday. This will lead to coupious amounts of moisture to be drawn from the central and southern Caribbean into the Bahamas leading to heavy rainfall and potential flooding across Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and much of the Bahamas starting around Tuesday and continuing through at least next weekend.

“The question then becomes whether this whole wet weather system will remain an area of disturbed weather or will it try to develop into a tropical depression or a tropical storm. Even though some of the model guidance has hinted at tropical development, it appears that the wind shear conditions across much of the western Atlantic and the Caribbean is too strong to support development into a tropical cyclone.

“Right now only the GFS model guidance forecasts tropical development which ends up occurring in the central Bahamas in about 10 days from now. The GFS model then forecasts this system to rapidly pull northward along the US East Coast into southern New England by May 24th and May 25th. I am very skeptical of this forecast by the GFS model as it is the only model predicting this type of a scenario and also the GFS ensemble guidance doesn't even support its operational counterpart.

“With that said, the analog guidance, which matches the current weather pattern with those from the past, indicates a forecast weather pattern of a large high pressure system over the north-eastern United States by next weekend. This would probably lead to lowering barometric pressures over the western Caribbean.

“This pattern is similar to one that occurred during late May of 2007 and this led to the development of Tropical Storm Barry which tracked north-eastward from the western Caribbean and up the US East Coast. So, perhaps the GFS model may not be so far off with its forecast – although, I'm not buying into it yet.

“It looks like periods of heavy rain with squalls will develop across Jamaica, eastern Cuba and parts of Haiti starting around Tuesday into Wednesday. This rain will gradually spread into the central and south-eastern Bahamas by Friday into next Saturday.

“This feed of moisture will impact the southern and central Caribbean and the Bahamas, including Jamaica, eastern Cuba and Hispaniola through next weekend with total rainfall amounts from Tuesday to Sunday of 10 to 20 inches possible in some areas and widespread rainfall amounts of 4 to 10 inches expected. My thinking is that eastern Jamaica and the mountainous regions of Haiti will see the highest rainfall amounts next week into next weekend.

“At this point, I'm not convinced that we will see tropical development next week as the wind shear is too strong across the Caribbean and there are no indications that it will decrease anytime soon. By next weekend, however, we might have to keep an eye on the outside possibility of tropical development in either the central or western Caribbean.

“The reason why is because if the weather pattern across the eastern United States shifts into one that features a upper level high pressure system over the north-eastern United States, it would cause a lowering of barometric pressures over the Caribbean and a more favorable environment for tropical development. Also, the weather pattern next weekend could be potentially analogous to late May of 2007 in which Tropical Barry formed then.

So, at this point it is something to keep an eye on, but it is definitely nothing to really sit up and take notice.”

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“Goodbye Mr. Mediocrity: Walking with Faith, stories that inspire” at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library

PHILIPSBURG— This Thursday 18th May, 2017 Daniel Collins  one of 10 experts co-author of “ Walking by Faith” by Mike Rodriguez will be presenting his story “Goodbye, Mr. Mediocrity” at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library from 6 pm to 7.30 pm.

Collin’s Story documents his personal life changing journey that began in August 2011 which altered his perspective transforming his life and bringing inspiration to others.

The Authors’ motivation for writing his story is to assist people in recognizing that being like everybody else or being mediocre is not your own personal reality.

Daniel Collins wants to indicate that many times we as human beings do not get what is desired because we do not ask.

Via his story “Goodbye Mr. Mediocrity”, Mr. Collins’ hopes to reach and play a positive part in other’s life’s assisting them with their growth.

Daniel Collin was born in St. Kitts came to St Maarten at the tender age of one (1).St. Maarten is his home although he spent several years in the Netherlands. He has spent the last 14 years happily married to his wonderful wife Latanya and their family includes two children, namely, a son named Dominick and a daughter named Lael.

The Author holds a Bachelor’s Degree in finance and economics from the Hanze and State Universities of Groningen.  He is skilled in public speaking, training, coaching, leadership, budgeting and writing. Daniel serves as a deacon at the Good News Baptist Church and keeps himself busy with various responsibilities which include overseeing the youth, finance and enjoys teaching classes at church.

The book launching ceremony and book signing will take place on Thursday May 18th, 2017 at 6.00 pm at the hall of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.  For more information please contact Maryland Powell at the library by phone 5422970 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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