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Soualiga News Today (3026)

Minister Lake pleased with Ministry VROMI proactive preparations for possible rain event

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake is very pleased with his ministries pro-active preparations taken on Friday afternoon due to inclement weather that is east of the Caribbean island chain.

According to the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS), an upper level feature weather system combined with available moisture at the lower levels of the atmosphere is increasing instability across the Caribbean region.

In MDS 6.00pm Friday, November 21 forecast up until Saturday 6.00pm, November 22, cloudy skies with periods of showers and a risk of thunder can be expected during this forecast period.

Residents and motorists are advised to exercise caution as flooding is likely with additional showers.  

On Monday at 2.00pm a meeting was held with contractor Windward Roads regarding the floodgate works at the A.Th. Illidge Road which were to commence on Friday night. Preparations have been taken that water can flow from the Fresh Water Pond into the Salt Pond should the need arise.

Heavy equipment was brought in at 3.00pm on Friday afternoon at the Great Bay beach next to the Fresh Water Pond canal.  Preparations have been made to open the beach channel in the event of a lot of rainfall.

Two of the three storm water pumps are on standby and ready to be activated in the event of heavy rainfall.

Heavy equipment operators have also been mobilized and are on standby in the event that they are needed.

In the wake of the recent torrential rainfall event last weekend and Hurricane Gonzalo mid-October, Minister Lake said on Friday that proactive preparations are necessary in order to manage the water flow in the event of heavy rainfall.  

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COO BTP-SXM SPEAKER AT CARICAM NETWORKING SUMMIT IN MIAMI

MIAMI-SINT MAARTEN - Chief Operating Officer of Bureau Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten (BTP-SXM) Mr. Giovani King gave a presentation on national-, regional- and global Telecommunication developments during the CariCam networking summit in Miami on November 19th 2014.

CariCam is a high level networking summit that brings together key players from telecom operators and suppliers to discuss ways to drive forward solutions in the region. The summit combines educative content, assessing the state of the industry and identifying new areas of growth with an occasion for one to one interaction and networking.

For a large audience Mr. King spoke about the challenges that regulators and operators are facing in their markets. He outlined the importance of Quality of Service Standards (QoS) in the Telecom industry and indicated the regulators & operators attitude towards the rapid growt of Over The Top content (OTT); a technology whereby audio, video and other media being deliverd via the internet without the involvement of an operator.

During the summit Mr. King also took the oppertunity to give more insight on the position BTP-SXM have on ‘Net Neutrality’; which can be defined as the non-discriminatory treatment of content & applications online. BTP-SXM is in favor to bring fair access to bandwidth and content across all networks since this will benefit all citizens and visitors of St. Maarten.

He stated:  “it’s of great importance that all internet users have the ability to access content or applications of their choice. Therefore we need to safeguard that all content is treated equally. A free and open internet promotes innovations, stimulates competition and drives entrepeneurship and democratic participation”.

The CariCam summit had a large turnout and the speech of BTP-SXM COO was well recieved by many professionals in the industry. The presention is availible on the BTP-SXM website: www.sxmregulator.sx (BTP-SXM)

  

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BIRD FLU CONCERNS: Antigua first Caribbean country to ban poultry and poultry products from the Netherlands, UK and Japan

SINT MAARTEN-ANTIGUA – The Antigua Government Veterinary and Livestock Division has implemented a temporary poultry ban from countries (United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Japan) effective November 18, 2014 due to the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu.

All poultry and poultry products have been banned from the three aforementioned countries due to the strain of bird flu being lethal and potentially transmissible to humans.

The European Union (EU) Commission has adopted protective measures to contain the bird flu outbreak in Europe.  These measures include culling animals in infected areas and banning sales of poultry products from those areas.

The Netherlands earlier in the week introduced a three-day country-wide ban on the transportation of poultry and eggs.

Avian influenza (AI) is a disease of birds, caused by Type “A” influenza viruses which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, etc., as well as pet birds and wild birds. Avian influenza viruses have also been isolated, although less frequently, from mammalian species including rats, mice, weasels, ferrets, pigs, cats, tigers, dogs, horses, as well as humans.

This virus was detected early this year in Asia in poultry species in the Republic of Korea, Japan and in China. In January 2014, the authorities of the Republic of Korea reported the first poultry cases of disease due to the infection with a highly pathogenic strain H5N8 of avian influenza viruses (type A). The total of 29 outbreaks was reported in birds involving geese, chickens and ducks. Close to 600,000 birds were culled. This event was resolved in September 2014. In September 2014, the country reported a new outbreak in ducks reared for meat production where 1200 birds died and 19,800 were culled to control the disease.

In April 2014, Japan notified one outbreak caused by HPAI H5N8 with 1,100 cases reported. As a part of control measures, 112,000 birds were destroyed/culled. This outbreak was resolved in July 2014. Four months later, in November 2014, another outbreak was notified by Japan when the virus was confirmed.

China reported the same subtype of avian influenza viruses in October 2014 notifying two outbreaks involving one environmental sample and one duck sample collected as a part of the national surveillance plan.

H5N8 virus was previously seen in the United States of America (Idaho) in 2008 in the form of low pathogenic (LP) avian influenza and then six years later (2014) in California in a similar LP form.

German authorities confirmed highly pathogenic H5N8, in fattening turkeys in a semi-closed rearing system in Mecklenburg - Vorpommern in early November 2014. One case was detected; all 1,731 susceptible birds present at the farm were destroyed.

Nine days later, veterinary services of The Netherlands detected the virus within the farm of 150,000 layer and breeding hens in Utrecht in a closed breeding system. There were 1,000 cases confirmed; all susceptible animals on the infected premises have been killed.

The United Kingdom also detected a highly pathogenic HPAI virus subtype H5N8 in a housed 60-week-old duck breeding flock that started about same time as in Netherlands. Approximately 6,000 birds have been culled.

What is the source of influenza A (H5N8)?

Based on the partial sequence data of the HA gene segment, the German, the Dutch and the British viruses were identified as closely related to the Republic of Korea H5N8 viruses. Investigations are continuing to determine the source. The viruses belong to the clade 2.3.4.6.

Have wild birds been identified as a carrier of the influenza A (H5N8) virus?

Wild birds can normally carry avian influenza viruses in their respiratory or intestinal tracts but they do not commonly get sick. They have historically been known as reservoirs and vectors of AI viruses. Around the world, surveillance measures have been put in place to monitor occurrence and characteristics of AI viruses in wild birds. To date, the infection with avian influenza viruses subtype H5N8 has been detected in wild birds in China[1], the Republic of Korea[2]and Japan[3].The majority of avian influenza viruses does not cause disease in wild birds, but is very likely that wild birds might spread the virus via their migratory flyways.

How is influenza A(H5N8) transmitted and spread among birds?

All AI viruses can be transmitted among birds through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, especially faeces or through contaminated feed, water, equipment, and human clothing and shoes.

They are readily transmitted from farm to farm by the movement of domestic live birds, people (especially when shoes and other clothing are contaminated), and contaminated vehicles, equipment, feed, and cages. Highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods in the environment, especially when temperatures are low.

Several factors can contribute to the spread of all AI viruses including: the movements of people and goods, marketing practices (live bird markets), farming practices and the presence of the viruses in migratory wild birds.

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Minister of Youth Affairs Lourens-Philip: November 20 is International Day on the Rights of the Child

GREAT BAY – The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip would like to wish every child and youth of the nation happy International Day on the Rights of the Child which is observed globally on November 20th.

The day 20 November marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

Minister Lourens-Philip will be joining President of the Collectivite Saint Martin Aline Hanson on Thursday morning at the Multi-Media Library in Concordia for an official ceremony related to this universal day celebrating the rights of children.

“The world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential, and as country, we are committed to this.

“On a global level, in spite of the overall gains, there are many children who have fallen even further behind. Old challenges have combined with new problems to deprive many children of their rights and the benefits of development.

“To meet these challenges, and to reach those children who are hardest to reach, we need new ways of thinking and new ways of doing - for adults and children.

“There is much to celebrate this 20th November as we mark the Convention, from global declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment, but these milestones must also serve as an urgent reminder that much remains to be done, and this also applies to country Sint Maarten.

“We must continue to work together to make sure our children continue to move up and their development is holistic in nature in order for them to be successful young adults in whatever they do,” Minister Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip said on Wednesday. 

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on 14 December 1954, which recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children.

It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world.

The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in a way which each considers appropriate. (Dept. of Communication)

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UPDATED/NEW: 33-year old British woman reports to Police HQ safe and sound

PHILIPSBURG - (UPDATED/NEW) The British lady by the name of Kelly Sheils who has been reported missing since November 15th, has reported to the Philipsburg Police Station on November 21st at approximately 10.00 o’clock. She stated that she is presently staying at Lucy’s Guest house and does not have any means to maintain herself. Contact was made with her families back in England who will send a ticket and travel documents for her. K. Sheils who is well and healthy was turned over to the Immigration-Department who will take care for her safe trip back to England. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

SIMPSON BAY - (POSTED November 19, 2014) The Police Department is presently searching for the lady by the name Kelly Sheils of British nationality, 33 years old.  Kelly was last seen by an acquaintance by the name of Angela Fuller on Saturday November 15th 2014 at approximately 01.30 p.m. at the bus stop close to Burger King in Simpson Bay.

Kelly was supposed to travel back to England on that same day but her passport was stolen. Kelly was to meet a male friend in the Philipsburg area that same day.  Angela tried on numerous occasions to get in contact with Kelly but was not successful. The families of Kelly back in England are also trying to get in contact with her but have also been unsuccessful.

Anyone who may have information concerning the where-a-bouts or have seen Kelly Sheils can get in contact with the police department at telephone number 54-22222. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten Concerned Regarding On Island Promotion of Captive Dolphin Facility in Anguilla

PHILIPSBURG - Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten has become increasingly concerned regarding the amount of businesses that are promoting the Captive Dolphin Facility on Anguilla on St. Maarten. Due to the efforts of Dolphin Defenders previous plans to establish a Captive Dolphin Facility on St. Maarten have ceased, however with the reopening of Captive Dolphin Facility in Anguilla many businesses are promoting an activity which should be banned. Dolphin Defenders is also concerned about reports that six extra dolphins have been transported to Anguilla to be held captive in captivity pens which are already too small for the current population. Additionally there are also concerns that neighboring St. Kitts, despite negative International Attention, is also exploring the opening of a captive dolphin facility, something which the international community significantly disagrees with.

“We cannot endorse or support local businesses which actively promote what amounts to the enslavement and exploitation of an animal that is self-aware and sentient. Dolphins are not made to be in an enclosed pen; these are animals that travel up to hundreds of miles a day. Dolphins which are kept in Captivity are done so in very bad conditions, with many of the animals showing horrific injuries and living a fraction of what they would in the wild. Dolphins living in captivity often also show social problems and neurotic behavior which results in aggression to both fellow dolphins and to the humans that train them and the humans that pay money in order to swim with them,” read a Dolphin Defender statement.

The organization further states that, although the people of Anguilla should decide on an activity which is morally wrong and exists for the sole purpose of economic gain through exploitation, they were disappointed to see companies actively promote the Captive Dolphin Program in Anguilla on St. Maarten and St. Martin; “having a Captive Dolphin Facility on St. Maarten and promoting one on Anguilla or on St. Kitts for that matter is essentially the same thing; it is based on the exploitation of a majestic creature for the economic benefit of greedy individuals and we urge the companies that do promote these programs to reconsider. The tourist high season coincides with the time of year where many dolphins and whales are passing through our waters, and we encourage businesses to invest in whale and dolphin watching trips where you can meet the animals on their own terms instead of in an artificial pool or pen which is essentially a prison environment,” stated Dolphin Defenders.

The increase in captive dolphins for Anguilla and the supposed plan for a facility in St. Kitts comes amidst strong international opposition to keeping dolphins in captivity. Captive Dolphin Parks and the communities that condone them are experiencing negative press through international pressure groups and movies such as blackfish and the Cove; “We urge that Governments consider a program where education and conservation of wild cetaceans including whales and dolphins is the focus, instead of captive programs which are both inherently dangerous to the animals and the people that frequent them,” concluded a Dolphin Defenders statement.

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34 Graduate in the areas of Customs, Immigration and Border Protection and Auxiliary Officers

CAY HILL - On Tuesday November 18, 2014 the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson officiated the swearing in and graduation ceremonies of 13 Customs Officers, 15 Immigration and Border Protection Officers and six (6) Auxiliary officers from various governmental departments.

The ceremonies were witnessed by the Prime Minister, the Hon.  Sarah Westcott-Williams, the Attorney General, Taco Stein, Interim Secretary General of Justice, Udo Aron, Department Heads of the various Justice departments, department heads of the graduating auxiliary officers, friends and family members of the graduating class of 2014.

In his presentation the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson congratulated all graduates and admonished them to carry out their duties in honour and humility while respecting the uniform.

The Minister further instructed them to carry out their duties in the service of the people of Sint Maarten, and by extension the government and the Ministry of Justice while reminding them to operate within the confines of the law using persuasion and respectful approach. 

He thanked the Justice Academy for the successful training of to date, 135 cadets within the Justice Chain of law enforcement. Furthermore through these endeavours since 10.10.10, the Justice sector has been able to offer considerable job opportunities to the young people of Sint Maarten.

The Academy was represented by Board members Miguel de Weever and Ademar Doran, the coordinator of the Academy, Richard Straker, staff members and several trainers.

During the ceremonies the art of self- defence was demonstrated by the cadets under supervision of Instructor A. Bell. Swimming instructor Franklyn Carty was also in attendance.

Following the ceremony, all graduates were congratulated by those in attendance in an informal reception held at the Belair Community Centre. (Dept. of Communication)

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CPS appraises Customs and Coast Guard about Sint Maarten Ebola Preparedness Plan

GREAT BAY - Recently Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS) met with the Customs Department and Coast Guard to discuss preparations related to the Ebola virus disease (EVD).

Customs and the Coast Guard were appraised about the Sint Maarten Ebola Preparedness Plan being worked on by Ministry VSA, the travel ban that was officially announced by the Minister of Public Health Hon. Cornelius de Weever on Monday, October 27, as well as the various screening layers that exist prior to a person entering country Sint Maarten.

The levels of screening entail, exit screening measures from countries affected by Ebola; entry screening measures in the United States of America and Europe and Sint Maarten.

The Customs Department has drafted its response plan since the meeting was held at the end of October and a draft a preparedness plan along with what resources would be required is being awaited from the Coast Guard for CPS to review with respect to how their respective agency would deal with a suspect Ebola case.

All stakeholders were updated about the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) protocols that are in place for cruise passengers and crew.

Another issue touched upon during the meeting was the inspection of shipping manifest prior to a vessel docking at one of the country’s ports.

Present for the meeting were representatives from SXM Airport, Port St. Maarten, Health Inspectorate, Public Health Department, Cabinet of Minister VSA, CPS, Risk Communications Team, Department of Communication, Ambulance, Civil and Shipping Inspectorate.

Ministry VSA monitors on-going developments in West Africa with respect to the EVD outbreak on a daily basis outbreak which has infected 14.413 persons, and 5.177 have died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of 11 November.

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MP De Weever to start Court Proceedings against Dutch MP Bosman

SINT MAARTEN-THE NETEHRLANDS – The Law Firm representing Member of Parliament and Minister Hon. Cornelius De Weever, Bloem Bonapart & Aardenburg, Attorneys at Law, will now commence legal procedures against Dutch Second Chamber Member of Parliament Hon. A. Bosman. 

The letter below dated November 17th, 2014 and addressed to Bosman states the following:

Dear Mr. Bosman,

You were quoted in an article that appeared in Antilliaans Dagblad on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 first and foremost disputing that you received the first open letter directly, admitting that you did receive a second letter per email, contending that you are not bound, or do not feel bound, to respond to letters that are not delivered to you by registered mail. One and other because matters can be put by anyone on the internet and alleged unclarity pertaining to the source. You were moreover quoted stating that it is unclear that our office represents the Hon. Minister Cornelius the Weever, since the letters never stated such.

Your contentious are factually incorrect and also as such remarkable, because:

1.    the first open letter was also directly sent to you by email;

2.    client has a read receipt;

3.    you subsequently immediately reacted by making more public statements, that were meanwhile also disputed by client;

4.    the content of your subsequent public reaction clearly shows that you took well notice of client’s open letter;

5.    the open letter explicitly states that our office represents the Hon. Minister Cornelius de Weever;

6.    client’s second letter refers clearly to the first open letter that as stated was also directly emailed to you;

7.    you actually stated to the media in no uncertain terms that you needed to confer with your party, before reacting, thereby committing to react

Now all of a sudden, after you were attended by means of a summons, this time directly addressed to you, to the fact that the reaction promised by you is still regretfully lacking, you adopt a complete different nota bene somewhat murky and in any case factually incorrect position, by alleging that you did not receive the first letter and that you would in any case not be bound to a reaction because - in short - the letters were not sent by registered mail to you.

You are thereby first and foremost negating and backpedaling on your published commitment to react after conferring with your party.

Please note that the purpose of sending a letter by registered mail is to ensure receipt thereof. There is no -rule of law- that compels client to send you a summons per registered mail. The mere fact that you are in receipt and able to take well notice of the letters, as is also evidenced from the “proof of reading receipts”, your own public statements and response e-mail yesterday, clearly show that you did receive client’s e-mails and were able to take good notice of the content thereof. The only reason the summon(s) were not also sent to you per registered mail is because client did not possess your personal (house) address. Please rest assured that the court petition will be addressed to your home address and served personally to you. 

Client views your latest reactions as yet other attempts to evade the issue at hand and further unnecessary delay matters. You had ample time to address your shortcomings. The summons sent and deadlines given are in conformity with the law. You are presently in default and client will consequently initiate proper legal procedures against you.

I trust to have informed you adequately herewith. 

Yours truly,

Regards, 

Jairo Bloem

Attorney at Law

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Minister Lake says concrete actions to be taken after a review of Disaster Management Planning and Response

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says the Monday meeting in the Dr. A. C. Wathey Legislative Hall with various stakeholders in disaster planning has led to concrete actions being drafted to be taken.

In the wake of the recent torrential rainfall event early November and Hurricane Gonzalo mid-October, outgoing Minister of VROMI Hon. Maurice Lake said he wanted to address a number of areas where he saw room for improvement and wanted to hear from the stakeholders how these could be better addressed and dealt with prior to the next hurricane season or weather related event.

Also attending was Vice Prime Minister/Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson who spoke about his experience with Hurricane Luis and Marilyn in 1995.  

Minister Lake chaired the meeting.  During the discussion it was stated that the country’s water management infrastructure (trenches, drains) were built to alleviate flooding and not to prevent flooding.

The trenches and waterways were built according to UNESCO study recommendations based on 20, 50 and 100 year storm scenarios.

The country’s drainage plans need to be reviewed and building on hillsides as well as near drains and waterways need to be looked at when it comes to spatial planning.

“My ministry is reviewing the national drainage plan and will be presenting to the Council of Ministers a revised plan along with a budget in order to start to address these challenges.  UNESCO reports made a number of recommendations and we need to implement these and making sure the available financial resources is there to execute the projects.

“Funding allocation for the post disaster phase will also be addressed in a structural manner along with a quick disbursement of funds to contractors who assists with the clean-up.

“Internal and external communication are other areas to be addressed as well.  The shortcomings due to infrastructure failure and the use of other communication avenues will be explored and executed.

“Public complacency was also discussed and how to address this will also be executed by the respected government agency.  NV GEBE will work closely with Ministry VROMI to address challenges that were confronted with flooding where certain parts of NV GEBE infrastructure were partially submerged.

“The Marine Trades Association also made a valuable contribution where they spoke about vessels that needed to enter the Simpson Bay Lagoon and where these vessels should be moored within the Lagoon.  A plan is also needed on how this should be done and where, and timely communication with mariners with respect to bridge openings.  A mandatory vessel evacuation plan will also be reviewed.

“It was a very constructive meeting with an outcome of what actions need to be taken to address the challenges that were confronted in two weather related events.

“Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson also informed the group that the new Council of Ministers will receive a presentation about the national Disaster Management system.  I am very pleased with the meeting and we achieved a lot,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.

Represented at the meeting were officials from Office of Disaster Management, Disaster Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, NV GEBE, Ministry VROMI, Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten, Department of Communication, and the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association. 

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