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Russian ambassador to the Netherlands denies fake news allegations

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands has told broadcaster NOS in an interview that his country is not spreading fake news in the Netherlands.

In addition, accusations made by the new Dutch government are worsening relations between the two countries, Ambassador Alexander Vasilievich Shulgin said. Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said last month the Russian security services are trying to influence public opinion in the Netherlands by spreading fake news.

In particular, Russia has attempted to influence people’s ideas about the MH17 disaster, she said, referring to a website which was full of false information but had been made to look like an official Dutch operation.

‘Russia is portrayed as a gigantic, pernicious octopus looming over the free world, poised to destroy fragile democracies,’ the ambassador said. ‘There is absolutely no evidence, no proof to confirm these allegations… we are denying any kind of interference, any kind of meddling.’

Asked if the allegations harmed the relationship between the Netherlands and Russia, Shulgin said: ‘The relations between our country and yours are not at their best. And in this context, any unsubstantiated or unchecked allegations are not useful at all.

They are just stopping us resuming full-fledged cooperation as it used to be.’ Asked what he wanted from Ollongren, the ambassador said he could not make any comment about what she had told parliament because it is not his job to do so.

Ollongren said in a reaction to the ambassador’s comments that she had not expected him to admit Russia was conducting covert operations in the west. ‘But I do think we should be aware that it is happening,’ she said. (DutchNews)

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THE NEXT MOVE IS YOURS, DO YOUR OWN ASSESSMENT AND BUY SMART-Michael Lee-Chin tells Caribbean Infrastructure Conference delegates

SINT MAARTEN/JAMAICA – Jamaica and the Caribbean are full of opportunities that can assure wealth creation for shareholders but potential investors should do their own assessments and evaluations and not rely totally on analysts and consultants, who may not fully grasp the special characteristics of the region, Michael Lee-Chin, President and Chairman, Portland Holdings, has said.

Addressing the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum hosted by IJ Global and New Energy Events and sponsored by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank and KPMG at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Dec. 12, 2017, Mr. Lee-Chin said “the Caribbean is a treasure trove of what is required to create outsize wealth”.

Using Jamaica’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) as an example, he told Forum attendees: “We were told by an international consultant not to invest in NCB. We did not listen to them, did our own evaluation and 14 years later, the bank has made profit of over $1.5-billion. The country has benefitted too, because we have paid over $475-m in corporate taxes.”

He also referenced what he described as “the largest deal in 2017”, the sale of Columbus Communications (FLOW) to Cable and Wireless, to illustrate the investment readiness of the region, and told Forum delegates “be careful how you make decisions. Consider perception versus reality.”

Pointing specifically to Jamaica, Mr. Lee-Chin said “there are myriad opportunities for investors including assets that are undervalued which means net investment returns for the professional investor, excellent location and high liquidity.”

He said that changes which are coming will make investing in Jamaica even more attractive. These include the policies governing equity capital which has been “historically incarcerated by the authorities”.

“The capital test (available capital as defined by required capital) for Jamaican insurance companies for example, has been set at for many years at 25 percent as against the USA - 1 percent and Canada 1.5 percent. Finally, this is going to be reduced to 1.5 percent.  This will free up long term equity and there will be lots more money available for investment in infrastructure.

Noting that many Caribbean governments are pursuing privatizations in order to boost investments, Mr. Lee-Chin offered special advice to public officials including several Premiers at the conference, “sell assets to new owners/operators for cash, make sure any new owners can grow those assets and give you annuity income via taxes and ensure wealth creation for your shareholders.”

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New arrests take this year’s 16-and-under murder suspect tally to six

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The arrest of two 15-year-old boys in Almere for the murder of a classmate earlier this week brings the total number of 16-and-under boys facing murder charges this year to six, the Telegraaf said on Thursday.

The latest incident took place on Tuesday evening when 15-year-old Shakil, described by his family as an ‘ordinary teenager’ was allegedly stabbed to death by the other two boys.

Earlier this year, another 15-year-old stabbed a 16-year-old to death in a row over a drugs debt, said to be several hundred euros. He is due to appear in court soon.

This summer, 14-year-old Brian N was arrested for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Romy from Hoevlaken and was given the maximum sentence for a juvenile – one year in detention to be followed by treatment in a secure psychiatric unit.

A 16-year-old boy is also facing murder charges for the killing of 14-year-old Savannah Dekker, this summer. And in September, a 14-year-old was arrested for killing his parents in Katlijk in Friesland.

He has admitted murder. The Telegraaf says every year seven or eight minors are arrested for murder in the Netherlands but that they are usually aged 16 and 17. (DutchNews)

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ZVK signs multi-year framework agreements with medical centers Sint Eustatius and Saba

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - For the first time, the Caribbean Netherlands Healthcare Insurance Office (ZVK) has signed a framework agreement with the hospitals of Saba and St. Eustatius for a period of five years.

Through this signing, both parties confirm the importance of long-term care based on mutual trust.

Part of the agreement is the control protocol drawn up by the accountants of the ZVK and the hospitals. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Continuation of Central Committee meeting with USM Board on Tuesday morning

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 12. USM Board members will be present.

The continuation of the urgent Central Committee meeting which was adjourned on November 28, and again on December 5, 2017 is scheduled for 10.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is:

Discussion with USM Board members to discuss their feedback on the motives for the closure of this esteemed establishment (IS/142/2017-2018 dated November 22, 2017)

(This meeting was requested by MP T.E. Heyliger, MP F.A. Meyers, MP S.M. Bijlani, MP P.F.M. Geerlings, MP S.A. Wescot-Williams, MP C.M.M. Connor, MP T.E. Leonard and MP C.E. Brownbill)

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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Plenary Session of Parliament about several draft national ordinances amending the civil code

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a plenary public session on December 11, 2017. The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor will be present.

The plenary public meeting which has been rescheduled for Monday, December 11, 2017 at 10.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda points are:

  1. Ontwerp van Landsverordening tot wijziging van het Burgerlijk Wetboek en enkele andere landsverordeningen in verband met de vervanging van de zevende titel A van Boek 7A door een nieuwe titel 10 van Boek 7 regelende voorschriften voor arbeidsovereenkomsten. (Draft of National Ordinance amending the Civil Code and some other national ordinances in connection with the replacement of the seventh title A of Book 7A with a new title 10 of Book 7 regulations for employment contracts).
  2. Amendment of article 69 and addition several new articles to the Rules of Order

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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Justice ministry manipulated studies into cannabis policy, says Nieuwsuur

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Senior justice ministry officials directly interfered with independent research into the ministry’s own soft drugs policy, current affairs programme Nieuwsuur said on Wednesday night.

The programme said that researchers altered unwelcome conclusions and reformulated research questions at officials’ request. The aim, Nieuwsuur said, was to manipulate the findings to ensure they supported existing policy rather than criticised it.

Nieuwsuur based its findings on conversations with a whistleblower, who made a complaint about the interference in 2014, and on internal ministry documents.

The programme looked at research carried out by the ministry’s own independent research unit WODC into coffee shops and the nuisance caused by drugs tourism and on the legalisation of cannabis cultivation.

The researchers concluded that that a policy based on repression and banning sales to foreigners was not solving any problems because there is actually very little nuisance from drug tourism in many places.

Politically sensitive

But according to an email from a civil servant, that conclusion was ‘so politically sensitive’ that it had to be revised. ‘We cannot accept the conclusions as they now stand,’ one official is quoted as saying.

Officials deleted research questions, made notes in the margins of the study and removed an entire chapter with conclusions and recommendations on how government policy could be improved.

The then justice minister Ivo Opstelten later told parliament the study supported his policy. Current justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus told Nieuwsuur in a reaction: ‘Policy has to be separate from scientific research.

The policy-making officials must not involve themselves with the outcome of that research.’ Protocols have since been sharpened up, Grapperhaus said. Later on Thursday the minister announced that he had commissioned an external inquiry to find out if pressure had been placed on researchers charged with compiling the two reports.  (DutchNews)

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Landfill Fire: Persons with respiratory challenges advised to close windows and doors

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Part of the landfill on Pond Island is on fire.

The Fire Department, is advising persons living downwind from the landfill fire, to close windows and doors, especially persons who have a respiratory challenge, and for persons who suffer from asthma, shortness of breath, or any other respiratory challenges.

The Fire Department is monitoring the situation at the landfill on Pond Island.  The company responsible for the management of the landfill is working diligently to extinguish the fire.

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Urgent Plenary Session of Parliament on setting priorities for the reconstruction phase post hurricane Irma on Thursday

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in an urgent plenary public meeting on Thursday, December 7. The Council of Ministers will be present.

The urgent plenary public meeting is scheduled for 10.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda points are:

  1. Advice regarding changes to the composition of certain Permanent and Ad hoc Committees of Parliament
  1. Discussion between Parliament and the Government pertaining to setting priorities as it relates to funding of projects in the reconstruction phase post hurricane Irma

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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Continuation of Plenary Session within the Justice Ministry including the installation of an Asset Recovery Team

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in an urgent plenary public session on December 6. The Minister of Justice will be present.

This meeting which was requested by MP F.A. Meyers, MP F.G. Richardson, MP drs. R.E. Samuel and MP P.F.M. Geerlings, is a continuation of the meeting that started on Monday, May 22, 2017 with a continuation on May 23 and July 31, 2017.  

The urgent plenary public meeting will be reconvened on Wednesday, December 6, 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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