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Winair re-introduces fuel charges as of April 10

SIMPSON BAY – Due to increasing world oil prices Winair will reintroduce a fuel sur charge on all tickets sold for travel commencing April 10, 2017, the airline announced in a press statement on Tuesday.

These fuel charges are 3.30 US$ or 6.00 NAF per segment.

March 01, 2016 Winair had eliminated all fuel sur charges as the world oil prices had decreased at that time.

The airline added in its press statement: “We will continue to monitor world fuel prices and adjust these sur charges accordingly.”

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SAFE Applauds Churches Call to Action, Suggests Shift of Focus

PHILIPSBURG – It was with mixed emotions that the St. Maarten LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered) organization SAFE (St. Maarten/St. Martin Alliance For Equality)  learned about a call to action circulated throughout the region, requesting pastors and ministers to sign an entreaty to US President Donald Trump to ‘stop spreading the notion of LGBT rights’ in the Caribbean.

On the one hand, the organization applauds any call to action to the United States and other neighbours to resolve social woes and issues indirectly or directly caused by their activity.

On the other hand, the organization wondered at the logic and true intention of this particular call to action, as it was a direct attack on the safety, social standing and long-term security of LGBT persons in the region. Shocking still was the fact that 19 pastors, apostles and ministers from St. Maarten, albeit from smaller churches put their names and signatures to this letter.

“Many members of our LGBT community were shocked and distressed upon learning that pastors from our island had signed this letter. There are so many social ills on our island that these church leaders could have chosen to address, that choosing to focus on this issue seems almost hypocritical on their parts.

“For persons in the community who also understand that same-sex desires and behaviours are not something they choose it reinforces the idea that many church leaders really do not understand the reality for LGBT persons.

“The tone of the letter in general indicated no understanding and also no willingness to engage with LGBT persons or organizations in order to gain new or further insights. We were deeply dismayed by this ,” SAFE President, Lysanne Charles-Arrindell said. 

SAFE, as the island’s LGBT and human rights organisation, laments the fact that these establishments have chosen LGBT rights (including civil and marriage rights) as their focus for this appeal to the US government.

The organisation wonders why these churches did not opt to focus on, for example, the estimated 2 million enslaved men, women and children throughout the Americas; a geographic area that includes St. Maarten and her neighbours (St. Kitts, Dominican Republic, Antigua, etc.).

These people, particularly the women and children, usually fall under the purview of the church, as they are to be cherished and protected.  Right here on our paradise island, we have the dubious honour of hosting dozens of the over 4 million people traded into sexual slavery every year (UN statistics) at several establishments.

Requesting that President Trump assist with the investigation and persecution of purveyors of the sexual slavery of women and children might be a better use of resources and time.

A second suggestion is to possibly request US assistance on legislation, from draft to enforcement, to combat the molestation of children within the Caribbean region, a horror that happens here on St. Maarten/St. Martin at varying degrees, from young children being targeted by relatives, close friends, school and yes, even fellow church-goers, to young girls being preyed upon by older persons; this is activity that SAFE fiercely condemns and contends that it has no place in our growing society.

These 19 pastors could also request advice on drafting internal policies to ensure that such criminal behaviour does not originate from within their own walls or tents. These 19 pastors, and others of a similar mind-set, might do well to focus their energies on protesting and combatting the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence on the very island they claim to care so deeply about, particularly those instances perpetrated by members of their own congregations.

However, while these are all viable suggestions and priority issues for St. Maarten and the region, SAFE doubts that these churches, and those from other islands that signed this letter, are concerned with the continued sexual, physical and emotional abuse of Caribbean people, particularly women.

They have, after all, requested assistance from a man who has been accused by no less than 24 women of serious sexual misconduct and assault. SAFE strongly urges them to reconsider aligning themselves with such a person; ‘Do not be deceived; bad company ruins good morals.’ (1 Corinthians 15:33)

SAFE looks forward to continuing its work of educating the community about human rights, advocating for the protection of vulnerable and at-risk people, and promoting equality, security and prosperity for all.

It welcomes any organisation from the community that shares these values to join them and looks forward to a fully equal and open St. Maarten/St. Martin. SAFE will also continue to be open to dialogue with all persons, organizations and entities who would like to learn more about the reality of lived experiences for LGBT people on the island, including any of the 19 church leaders.

“For SAFE community conversations have always been important. People need to understand that LGBT people are people, period. Who deserve to be safe within their families, homes, schools, communities, workplaces, etc. Who deserve to have their lives protected.

“Who deserve to live. For many LGBT people this is not the case, especially for LGBT youth, even on St. Maarten/St. Martin. SAFE will continue to do the work of educating the LGBT community on the island as well as the wider community, because change must come,” Charles – Arrindell said.

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Last 250 T-Shirts on sale for the lighted parade 2017

PHILIPSBURG – On Monday, the 27th of March, the last batch of T-shirts that give access to the Lighted Parade 2017, reached Sint Maarten. This was announced earlier today by Carnival Event organizer Rio Productions.

The shirts are being sold at a rapid pace, and are expected to be completely sold out by Thursday, March 30th 2017. President of Rio Productions, Mrs. Brenda Wathey, explained: “the T-shirt sales went much faster this year due to our special collaboration with both NBA and Soggy Dollar Bar.

“They both have an enormous crowd, and utilized all modern media channels to reach out to their followers. In addition to that, Chippie and Caribbean Liquors and Tobacco (CLT), made ongoing efforts to reach out to their loyal customers, by offering them special packages on the T-shirts”.

Ms. Wathey continued, “I’m very pleased with great support and enthusiasm as shown by revelers, partners and sponsors, and it definitely indicates that we are on the right track in making it our best carnival celebration ever.

“We truly believe our participants and spectators have a lot to look forward this year, as Small Axe Band and Grand Master Band will be “Clashing” on the road. In addition to that, our most talented St. Maarten DJ’s (Big Boss & Maestro) will be performing on the amazing truck of Soggy Dollar Bar that will be completely lit with spectacular light effects”.

The last 250 shirts are going on sale by UTS, Van Dorp, NC Wathey and CLT, and includes LED string lights, full open bar, including a large variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages during the entire parade, and 50% discount at the official after party at Soggy Dollar Bar hosted by El Emporio Productions of the famous entertainer Michael Angelo (Sponge). Rio Productions officially announced that no extra shirts will be ordered, to comply with all safety standards.

For more information concerning the t-shirt sales, the parade and the 2017 route, participants are encouraged to follow Rio on Facebook or visit the Rio Productions web page for more detailed information:  www.rioproductions.sx

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Minister Jacobs travels to Cuba for Higher Education mission visit

SINT MAARTEN/CUBA - Minister of Education (Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports MECYS) Silveria Jacobs along with the St. Maarten delegation comprised of the Secretary General of MECYS, Policy Advisor Fabiana Vanterpool-Arnell, Head of the Department of Education Ruth Linger, travelled to Cuba on March 26th to attend the Kingdom Higher Education mission, a press release from the Minister’s Cabinet said on Monday.

The Minister will be met by the Ministers of Education from the Netherlands, Aruba and Curacao.

The visit will incorporate group discussions centered around topics such as education, youth, culture, UNESCO, and sports.

The delegation will also visit a university in Santa Clara, Cuba, with the hope of creating a cooperation relationship between the countries.

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St. Maarten Lions receive high marks from District Governor

PHILIPSBURG - Lions District Governor for Sub-District 60B Errol Lee MJF visited the St. Maarten Lions Club and presided over an audit meeting with the club.

Upon his arrival on St. Maarten, the District Governor visited the newly renovated Lions Den Meeting Room and the weekend camp site for the Sister Basilia Center clients which was hosted by the Lions Club and Mohican Scouts.

He also visited the future location for the Lions Family Park at the Cottage Roundabout in the Zagersgut area which is to be developed later this year.

The District Governor gave high marks for the hard work and dedication that the St. Maarten Lions Club members have put in for the first nine (9) months of the year under its current President Lion Davey Woods during the audit meeting which was attended by Charter Member Lion Frank Arnell MJF and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Interim Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Rafael Boasman who is also member of the club.

Thirty (30) board members and regular members attended the audit meeting which included 3 Past District Governors. Lion Claudio Buncamper MJF attended the meeting in his capacity as Region 2 Chairman of which he oversees all Lions and Leo Clubs from the Virgin Islands down to Dominica.

In his remarks to the members at the Audit Meeting District Governor Lion Errol Lee said, “The St. Maarten Lions Club is doing a tremendous job and has really set a high standard in the District as to how a club should be run by bringing in younger members over the past few years with innovative ideas and worthwhile projects and letting them breathe new life into the St. Maarten Lions Club while effectively serving the St. Maarten community”.    

The audit meeting with the District Governor concluded with several presentations followed by dinner with the St. Maarten Lions Club members at the Lions Den. St. Maarten was the final stop on the District Governor’s visit to the various Lions & Leo Clubs in Region 2.

The St. Maarten Lions Club would like to thank the management and staff of the Sonesta Great Bay Resort for sponsoring the hotel accommodations for Lion District Governor Errol Lee during his stay on the St. Maarten.

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Police Management Team comes out to Direct Traffic

CUL DE SAC - As was published in the local newspapers and on social media, as a tribute to the late Officer Annick Arrindell, the Police Management Team came on Monday March 27th at 7.00 a.m. to regulate the heavy flow of traffic coming from the busy school districts of Reward and Sint Peters.

The Police Chief Carl John was seen regulating traffic at the intersection of L.B. Scot road and Gladiola road, while Chief Inspector Benjamin Gout was at the Church Hill round about, and Commissioner Denise Jacobs was at the intersection of Zagersgut road/ Coralita road where the family of Annick Arrindell were lined up to see this tribute.

Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson was seen regulating traffic at the intersection of L.B. Scot road- Sint Peter’s road. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

PHOTO: Chief of Police Carl John

Chief Carl John

PHOTO: Police Commissioner Denise Jacobs

Comm Denise

PHOTO: Chief Inspector Benjamin Gout

Inspector Gout

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Prospective Dutch Side "Timeshare Authority" Slammed by Everyone but Politicians

SINT MAARTEN - Two big things appear to be happening almost simultaneously on Sint Maarten regarding timesharing, according to online Publisher Jeff Berger of SXM Weekly News, that serves more than 285,000 subscribers around the world.

“The first is a new timeshare ordinance which we referred to in the past as the first embodiment on SXM of timeshare owner consumer protection. SXM Weekly News has obtained an English-language copy of the ordinance and we're looking at it closely. We'll let you know our opinion of it once we've digested it and compared it to reasonable timeshare owner expectations regarding consumer protection legislation.

“The second is a government Authority to be established to oversee the resolution of complaints from timeshare owners. We have also obtained an English-language version of that ordinance and are taking a close look at it as well.

“However, in talks with a number of people associated with the timeshare industry on the island, and with a few selected timeshare owners, it appears there is nearly unanimous opposition to the establishment of the Authority.

“First, opponents argue that it will raise the cost timeshare owners pay to use their units every year, since the cost of the bureaucracy will be assessed upon timeshare owners. To us, this looks like yet another tax on timeshare owners wearing a remarkably ineffective disguise. That makes it a bad idea -- one that slams the most loyal and productive component of the entire island economy

“Second, many resorts have undergone substantial renovations in recent years and have no complaints whatsoever. Arguably the worst of the lot is Ray Sidhom's Alegria Resort, which attempted to void timeshare owner contracts and throw out timeshare owners upon taking over the bankrupt Caravanserai property. It looks like the "Caravanserai debacle" as we branded it didn't occur to those who drafted this bill.

“There, thousands of timeshare owners had millions of dollars in investments expropriated by owner Ray Sidhom. Timeshare owners howled loudly upon deaf government ears. With that glaring exception and Sapphire Beach Resort, which is getting back in the good graces of its timeshare owners, there are precious few complaints.

“It strikes most opponents that there are far better ways of adjudicating complaints than establishing an expensive bureaucracy which could conceivably cost timeshare owners another $200 per week per year, a fee which once again could mortally damage the timeshare sector of the St. Maarten economy which already is incredibly fragile. “Worse, if that's possible, is that this $200 weekly can then not be spent for meals, jewelry, etc., on SXM -- a huge hit where businesses are already reeling (more on that is coming in future weeks).

“We are still examining this and we'll have more comments soon, but our initial reaction is that this is a huge overreach which will seriously damage St. Maarten's economy. We think, as do others, that there are much better, simpler, far less expensive solutions, and as we get more deeply into this we'll likely be talking about them right here and calling for your help in making your feelings known about this proposed Authority,” Online Publisher Jeff Berger concludes in his most recent weekly newsletter.

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Central Bank President Tromp and Attorney respond to Media Reports about National Security Screening

PHILIPSBURG - On March 22, 2017, the Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. Gibson, esq. of Sint Maarten announced in a media conference that Dr. Emsley Tromp, President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten, did not pass the screening of the Security Service of Sint Maarten (‘VDSM’), a press release from Attorney J. Bloem stated on Sunday.

“Consequently, the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten decided not to grant  Dr. Tromp a so-called “declaration of no objection.”

“In reaction thereto it should first and foremost be noted that diligence is not served with media publications about a decision against which opposition and appeal can be filed, with an independent adjudicating/reviewing body.

“Especially, because such publications cause further damage to the good name and reputation of Emsley Tromp. Emsley Tromp will therefore, in reacting to the announcement in question, limit himself to the following statement:

“I cannot find myself in the decision of the Minister, taken upon advice of VDSM. The screening process should, certainly with regard to persons who has exercised so-called Trust Functions for a long while within our society, be premised on verified or in any case verifiable facts.

“Facts can in any case never, as has happened in this case, give way to insinuations and/or baseless accusations. The Minister wrongfully and unjustly gave too much credence to the situation that a criminal investigation is ongoing against my person, which investigation is by the way enduring undesirably long. I emphatically contest and deny the suspicions of the Public Prosecutors Office and will defend myself against that in Court.

“Effective immediately, an appeal will be filed against the decision of the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten.”

Emsley Tromp will elucidate further on his position, in court.

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Two 22-Year Old Men Drown at Mullet Bay Beach on Saturday. Bodies recovered on Sunday

MULLET BAY - On Saturday March 25th at approximately 4.00 p.m. two men who went swimming at Mullet Bay beach was reported missing. The seas were quite rough and according to witnesses one of the men was calling for help while swimming.

The other had gone to help and shortly after they disappeared under the water. They were not seen since and are suspected to have drowned.  The Coast Guard carried out an intensive search until late in the evening hours but, to try to locate the victims to no avail.

Family members of the victims were informed of the situation. The missing persons were identified as Samuel Blaise (22) and Jeef Stephane (22).

On Sunday March 26th at approximately 1.30 p.m. while the Coast Guard continued the search for the missing persons a sea bather encountered the bodies of the victims. The Coast Guard was immediately informed and went on to remove the bodies from the water.

The bodies were taken to the Coast Guard Building in Simpson bay where Dr. Mercuur pronounced the death of the victims and stated that the cause of death was drowning.  Detectives and Forensic Department were also on the scene. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

Police photo of second victim, Jeff Stephane.

vermiste pers. 3 2

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World Salt Week concludes on Sunday. Salt: The Forgotten Killer

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), has been celebrating the 18th National Salt Awareness Week which started on March 20 and concludes this Sunday, March 26.

The theme is: ‘Salt: The Forgotten Killer.’

The objective of the awareness week is to remind people that salt raises blood pressure, leading to strokes and heart attacks, and that by simply eating less can lower the chances of dying prematurely.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday that it supports the efforts by the Salt Smart Workshop on Designing a Social Marketing Campaign for the Caribbean.

The goal of developing a social marketing campaign that could be used throughout the Caribbean to reduce the amount of salt added to food during cooking and food preparation, as well as to raise awareness.

The groups came up with messaged designed to break through the clutter of health information to create a memorable impact on the attitudes of people throughout the region.

The social marketing campaigns target mothers of young children living in the Caribbean and focus on simplicity, low-cost distribution, convenience for mothers, and changing the social norms surrounding salt.

The final outcomes included having the participants develop campaigns pitches that will be used to seek funding for the projects and as well as plans for how to disseminate the messages through in-country channels.

The workshop was put together by Dr. Branka Legetic, Regional Advisor on non-communicable diseases, Dr. Ruben Grajeda, Regional Advisor on Nutrition, and Robin Mowson, Consultant in NMH.

The workshop held early March was designed and moderated by Bill Smith, Social Marketing Consultant. Participants included multisector professionals from governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, private sector and professional organizations based in the Caribbean, making this a unique workshop that incorporated all membership components of the Salt Smart Consortium.

The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature and is used to flavor and preserve food. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt. Table salt is approximately 40 percent sodium.

Reducing dietary salt is recommended by the recent United Nations Summit to prevent non communicable diseases (NCDs) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve population health.

Excess dietary salt increases blood pressure causing approximately 30% of hypertension and is a probable pro carcinogen for gastric cancer and is also associated with kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Where assessed, the salt consumption is more than 5/g day, maximum quantity recommended by WHO. African descent people are particularly susceptible to the adverse blood pressure effects of excess salt.

High levels of blood pressure is a contributory factor in at least 40% of all heart disease and stroke which represent 45 % of NCDs.

Hypertension is a major health risk in the Americas where between 20-35% of the adult population has elevated blood pressure.

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