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Entrepreneurs in Haiti will soon have broader access to technical skills training to promote digital jobs

SINT MAARTEN/HAITI - The initiative is led by LACNIC, the Internet Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2013, LACNIC has strengthened the technical skills of more than 300 Haitian ICT students and professionals, through a project called Ayitic. This year, LACNIC has expanded the project. 

“In this new phase, Ayitic is going global, adding important innovations such as technical courses delivered via an e-learning platform, training for women in digital data management, and efforts aimed at inserting participants in digital employment markets,” a release from LACNIC said. 

Some of the new training workshops will be offered to women aged 18 to 25, enabling a target group of young female Haitian entrepreneurs to create and find jobs in Haiti and abroad.  

"The goal of these transformations is that, in addition to promoting Internet development at the local level, the initiative will help promote the digital services market, creating new job opportunities in both local and international markets, in the latter case through the outsourcing of services," noted Carolina Caeiro, Cooperation Project Coordinator at LACNIC. 

The project also anticipates the creation of an Information Technology cluster in Haiti led by Max Larson Henry of Transversal, which is expected to boost Haiti's Internet infrastructure. The Cluster will seek to promote initiatives that impact on the security and stability of the Haitian Internet. 

Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique d'Haïti will be the local organization responsible for the project, with the support of local consultants.  

Other organizations participating in the initiative include the Caribbean Open Institute of the University of West Indies, 3x3 Design and Slashroots. 

The project has the support of the International Development Research Centre, a public corporation created by the Canadian government to help communities find solutions to social, economic and environmental problems.


Police confiscate more driving licences from drunk, reckless drivers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police and justice ministry officials confiscated over 14,700 driving licences on the spot last year – an average of around 40 a day, the public prosecution department said on Friday.

Of those, 8,300 were confiscated from drunk drivers and 4,700 from people caught driving too fast. The figures, which are up 1,400 on 2015, do not include people caught speeding on camera, who fall under a different system.

If police confiscate a driving licence, it is sent to the public prosecution department where officials have 10 days to decide if it should be returned or if the issue should be taken to court.

One in four drivers who lose their licence are young and inexperienced – a rise of 500 on a year ago. A spokesman for the department told broadcaster NOS that further research is merited to find out why more newly-qualified drivers are breaking drink drive and other rules. (DutchNews)


Coalition talks enter 57th day, parties deny divisions over climate change

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The four parties in talks on forming a new government have shrugged off claims made in the AD newspaper that the CDA is torpedoing every proposal made which relates to the environment.

CDA stalwart Herman Wijffels told the AD that current party leader Sybrand Buma has no idea about climate change and that his total faith in market forces had turned him into the Dutch Trump.

Sources close to the talks also told the paper that Buma had blocked every ‘green’ proposal put forward for possible inclusion in the coalition agreement if it would have an impact on household spending.

While VVD leader and Prime Minister Mark Rutte is prepared to accept some form of green taxation, ‘Buma is being difficult’ the sources said.

VVD parliamentary party leader Halbe Zijlstra told reporters on Thursday that ‘very little’ of what had been said is accurate. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said ‘everyone is doing their best to make something of it’ and GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said: ‘We have confidence that we will do good things for the climate.’

The four parties are now in day 57 of the formation process. Negotiation leader Edith Schippers is due to give a press conference about progress so far later on Thursday evening.

She told MPs in a briefing on Thursday afternoon she still aims to have a new government in place before the summer parliamentary recess. (DutchNews)


Blood tests on people close to DuPont plant show high levels of C8

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Blood tests on people living close to the former DuPont chemical plant in Dordrecht show that some have too much of the toxic chemical CB in their blood, the public health body RIVM said on Thursday.

This means exposure to C8 may have damaged their health, the RIVM said in a new report. In the first instance, this could involve an increase in cholesterol, lower birth weights and changes in liver function.

‘People living close to the factory have higher concentrations in their blood that people living further away or for fewer years,’ the RIVM said.

Nevertheless, the RIVM said, there is a lot of uncertainty about how much of the chemical, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, is needed to cause these effects.

In addition, the RIVM said, there is no point in carrying out individual health checks on everyone living close to the plant. Instead, people who are concerned about their health should visit their doctor.

In its initial report last year, the RIVM said locals were exposed to higher than legal amounts of the compound via the atmosphere from 1970 to 2002 but not via drinking water. ‘In the worst case scenario, the norm was broken for 25 years,’ the RIVM is quoted as saying.

In 2002 emissions from the plant fell to below agreed norms and in 2012, C8 was replaced in Telfon production by another less harmful chemical known as GenX. That too is now under investigation.

The factory itself is now known as Chemours. (DutchNews)


School leaving exams start for 213,000 Dutch secondary school pupils

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Over 200,000 secondary school pupils begin their leaving exams on Wednesday as the three-week examination period opens.

The start of the school exams coincides with an investigation by the Volkskrant and school inspectors into the use of private tutors and cramming classes to prepare pupils.

The paper says tens of thousands of pupils are sent on expensive courses offered by commercial companies and that this risks increasing the educational divide between haves and have-nots even further.

The courses have become a key part of the ‘shadow education circuit’ which is only open to richer pupils, the paper says. At the same time, however, some schools are also offering extra lessons to boost pupil performance. One in five schools also asks extra cash to pay for the courses.

Most pupils take the special classes in one or two subjects which they fear they may fail or which they need to improve in order to be admitted to their chosen university degree course.

Of the 213,000 taking school finals this year, almost 60,000 are in pre-college (havo) and 40,000 in pre-university (vwo) streams. The rest are taking theoretical or practical exams at trade schools (vmbo).

The exam results will be published on June 14, with resits from June 19 to June 22. (DutchNews)


Dutch police seize €1.8m in cash in encrypted mobile phone gang raids

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police have seized €1.8m in cash in a string of raids in connection with a gang they suspect of selling encrypted mobile phones to criminals.

Some €1m in cash was found in a house in Amsterdam’s Plantage district and a further €800,000 at another property in the province.

In total, 11 locations in Noord-Holland province were raided as part of the investigation into the sale of mobile phones which have been adapted to make them more difficult to tap.

The police high tech crime team has been investigating the crypto phone gang for some two years, news agency ANP said. Although the sale of encrypted phones is not illegal, police suspect the phones will provide a link to a string of gangland killings and other crimes.

Four people were arrested in the raids and face charges of money laundering. (DutchNews)


Prosecutors recover more than €400m in criminal earnings

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prosecutors seized more than €400 million worth of criminals’ assets in 2016, four times their target figure.

The public prosecution service’s annual report said that the haul of €416.5 million represented the recovery of criminal gangs’ earnings.

The service missed its targets on clearing up crimes such as domestic burglaries and street robbery, while cybercrime was another area where its performance fell short of expectations.

Herman Bolhaar, departing chairman of the college of public prosecutors, said almost all objectives for the year had been achieved and the service had ‘contributed to a safer and more just Netherlands’. (DutchNews)


Don’t pose for selfies on railway tracks, Dutch rail operator urges

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch rail company ProRail has launched an urgent appeal to people not to take selfies of themselves posing on or next to railway tracks.

An average of nine people are caught walking on or too close to the railway and they are the biggest external factor for delays, ProRail spokesman Jaap Eikelboom told the AD.

‘It could be people taking the dog out or taking a short cut, but increasingly, we see people taking photographs,’ he said.

In 2012, railway staff reported 2,353 incidents in which people were walking on the tracks. By 2015 the total had reached almost 3,000.

Some 25% of all train journey delays are due to people on the tracks. ‘They account for 3.5 hours of delays a day,’ Eikelboom said. ‘Last year that meant 1.6 million people arrived late at their destination.’

ProRail has been putting up bigger and better fences in an effort to keep people off the tracks and is monitoring social media to spot selfie-takers. (DutchNews)


Dutch firms must be more export-minded, says report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Despite the fact that the Netherlands has the second largest trade surplus in the EU, Dutch companies must become more export-conscious, an advisory report for the next government claims, the Financieele Dagblad said on Friday.

The Dutch trade surplus in 2016 was the second-highest in the EU at 10.9% of GDP. Ireland was far and away the highest at 41% of GDP, but the EU average was only 2%.

The report Team Nederland: samen sterker in de wereld was handed to ministers at the end of last month. It says the present trade surplus is far too low and that €180m must be invested in broader financing possibilities, with an additional annual €50m to foster trade.

The goal, the report states, is to generate 40% of net national income abroad by 2030. At present the figure is 32%.

Chris Buijink, who presented the plan to caretaker ministers Henk Kamp (economic affairs) and Liliane Ploumen (trade), said this is no exaggeration. ‘Indeed were are doing very well but very well is not good enough.’

Buijink, a former civil servant who now chairs the Dutch banking association (NVB), said the Netherlands must step up export efforts in developing markets. He cautioned that only 12% of Dutch companies are active internationally.

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and 40% of French voters who are expected to back Marine Le Pen in France’s election this Sunday make this strategy more urgent. ‘Competition is increasing,’ he said. (DutchNews)


Dutch government will on voting rights if Turkey holds death penalty vote

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch government will look into ways of stopping Dutch Turks voting in any referendum on reintroducing the death penalty, the foreign affairs ministry said on Friday.

Such a referendum would ‘not be compatible with our values,’ a spokesman for foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders said in the AD. ‘We first have to wait and see if it happens. There is nothing on the table in Turkey yet to make this referendum a reality.’

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken about bringing back capital punishment since he narrowly won a referendum to give him greater powers last month.

The German government said earlier it wouldn’t allow voting in Germany if Turkey holds a referendum on whether to reintroduce the death penalty.

Some 240,000 people in the Netherlands are entitled to vote in Turkey. In last month’s referendum, some 80,000 did so, and 71% were in favour of giving greater powers to Erdogan. (DutchNews)

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