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Soualiga Newsday Latest News (2591)

Minister Fleming-Artsen presents Sint Maarten Hub Function and Gateway at Dutch Kingdom Ambassadors Meet

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands - At the end of January Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen made a presentation to the Dutch Kingdom Ambassadors at an event that was held at the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament.

Minister Fleming-Artsen described the meet and greet as very positive and a good way to make contacts and establish a working relationship with the possibility of developing opportunities for country Sint Maarten using the Kingdom Ambassador networks throughout different parts of the world.

“My follow-up with the Kingdom Ambassadors will be to look at ways and means of opportunities between the countries where they are posted and the Kingdom and Sint Maarten in particular.  We have a modern air and seaport and as a country are strategically located to act as a hub which I explained to the Kingdom Ambassadors,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen said.

The Kingdom Ambassadors were brought up to speed on current Sint Maarten developments and the hub function, as well as the current function as gateway to the islands of Anguilla, St. Barths, Saint Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius, and the historical relationship with some of the other islands such as the Dominican Republic and Dominica.

Minister Plenipotentiary Fleming-Artsen also highlighted Government’s incentives to attract business to the country; provided insight into the St. Maarten Medical Center and how it can play a more important role in providing care to patients from the neighbouring islands.

The minister concluded by looking forward to working together within the Kingdom to promote the “Gateway” of Sint Maarten to other countries with the assistance of the partners within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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Five to 17 Tropical Storms Forecasted for 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season

SINT MAARTEN – While long-range forecasts for 2015 Atlantic hurricane activity indicate another average to slightly below average season, there is some divergence of opinion so far in advance of the official start of the season on June 1.

The respected team of Klotzbach and Gray from Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science believes that we remain in an active era for Atlantic basin tropical cyclones since 1995 (despite the quiet seasons that occurred in 2013-2014), and say that they expect typical conditions associated with a positive Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and strong thermohaline circulation (THC) will return in 2015.

In December, the Colorado State forecasters noted that it was challenging to forecast whether or not the then developing weak El Niño would persist through the 2015 hurricane season. While significant weakening of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and thermohaline circulation (THC) was noted during the spring of 2014, North Atlantic SST and sea level pressure patterns have since rebounded to conditions characteristic of an active era.

Klotzbach and Gray anticipate that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season activity will be primarily determined by the strength of the THC/AMO and by the state of ENSO.

For the 2015 hurricane season, four possible scenarios are anticipated with the probability of each as indicated below:

THC circulation becomes unusually strong in 2015 and no El Niño event occurs (resulting in a seasonal average net tropical cyclone (NTC) activity of ~ 180) – 10 percent chance.
THC continues in the above-average condition it has been in since 1995 and no El Niño develops (NTC ~ 140) – 40 percent chance.
THC continues in above-average condition it has been in since 1995 with the development of a significant El Niño (NTC ~ 75) – 40 percent chance.
THC becomes weaker and there is the development of a significant El Niño (NTC ~ 40) – 10 percent chance.

Hence a large range of uncertainty remains about the outlook, which appears to suggest anything from slightly above average to below average, based on the extended range qualitative outlook. Typically, hurricane seasons with those NTC values have the following tropical cyclone activity:

180 NTC – 14-17 named storms, 9-11 hurricanes, 4-5 major hurricanes
140 NTC – 12-15 named storms, 7-9 hurricanes, 3-4 major hurricanes
75 NTC – 8-11 named storms, 3-5 hurricanes, 1-2 major hurricanes
40 NTC – 5-7 named storms, 2-3 hurricanes, 0-1 major hurricane

The greatest probability envisioned so far in advance was consequently thought to be from 8 to 15 named tropical storms, with from 3 to 9 hurricanes and 1 to 4 major hurricanes.

An earlier prediction from British-based Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) said that their extended range forecast suggested another below average season in 2015.

Based on projected climate signals, TSR forecast Atlantic basin tropical cyclone activity to be around 20 percent below the 1950-2014 long-term norm and around 30 percent below the recent 2005-2014 10-year norm.

TSR said that its main predictor for this extended range forecast is expected July-September trade wind speed over the Caribbean Sea and tropical North Atlantic. TSR noted that this can influence cyclonic vorticity (how storms spin up) as well as vertical wind shear in the main hurricane track region.

While noting a low level of precision in its long range predictions, TSR forecast 13 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 intense hurricanes, with accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of 79.

The 65-year climate norm is 11 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes and ACE of 102, while the 10 year average is 15 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes and ACE of 113.

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Tzu Chi volunteers spread cheer to prison inmates

POINT BLANCHE - St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers helped spread some New Year’s cheer to inmates of the Pointe Blanche and Simpson Bay detention facilities during separate visits on Saturday, January 31, and Sunday, February 1.

During the visits volunteers shared positive messages about global warming and healthy eating to the 53 inmates who participated (49 at Pointe Blanche and 14 at Simpson Bay); performed for inmates and shared gifts with the total prison population at both facilities (140 persons) as well as the on-duty staff (26 persons).

Twenty volunteers participated in both exercises.

The first set of 13 volunteers visited the Pointe Blanche Prison on January 31. Before the programme began volunteers assisted to clean the prison chapel, in which the programme was held. After a welcome song, introduction of volunteers and sharing of information about the Tzu Chi Foundation, volunteers delivered a performance of The Four Wives skit. The skit shares the message about the importance of positive karma and of being grateful.

Inmates were also given information about global warming, living green and the importance of healthy eating. This presentation was followed by the sharing of vegetarian Sushi; vegan ham and vegan cheese sandwiches to inmates to show them how tasty healthy food can be. New Year gifts were then presented to inmates and on-duty prison staff.

The visit and information shared was well-received by inmates, who appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Some inmates recognised volunteers from previous visits and were very happy to interact with them. A question and answer session, which was held, had inmates’ attention and there was a lot of interaction amongst them. The skit was also well received and all the volunteers who performed in it did a great job.

Some inmates indicated that they looked forward to Tzu Chi’s next visit in December.

Seven volunteers visited the Simpson Bay detention facility, on Sunday, where a similar programme had been conducted.

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all volunteers who participated in the exercise as well as all inmates and on-staff prison staffers for their accommodation and gracious welcome and participation in the programme. Tzu Chi looks forward to continuing its annual visit to the prison at the end of the current calendar year. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

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Aruba’s Minister of Health Schwengle visits Prime Minister Gumbs

PHILIPSBURG - Minister of Public Health, Elderly Care & Sports, Honorable C. A. Schwengle MD of Aruba paid a courtesy visit to Honorable Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs on Wednesday at the Government Administration Building.

Minister Schwengle MD is on Sint Maarten to visit Interim Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor the Honorable Mrs. Rita Bourne-Gumbs.

Former Minister of Finance Mr. Roland Tuitt serves as an advisor to the Ministry in Aruba. (Press Secretariat, Government of Sint Maarten Council of Ministers)

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Ombudsman Arduin presents Timeshare Thesis to Minister of Tourism Connor

PHILIPSBURG - Dr. Nilda Arduin, an expert on Timeshare, presented her thesis, which was published in the Netherlands in 1993, to the Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Hon. Claret Connor.

Dr. Arduin, a legal specialist on timeshare, is internationally known for her work and expertise on the legal aspects of timesharing. As a lawyer she has been consulted and advised governments, developers and timeshare owners on legal issues pertaining to the timeshare industry.

In 1995 she advised the government of Sint Maarten during the very difficult period of the Pelican Resort debacle just before Hurricane Luis hit Sint Maarten. She has chaired a Timeshare Advisory Council (TAC) installed by government in the nineties. The TAC presented various reports to government, advising on regulation to improve and ensure consumer protection. Many of her recommendations included in her thesis are reflected in the amendments introduced in the Civil Code to organize timesharing, as well as efforts made on Sint Maarten to regulate the industry.

Dr. Arduin applauds the draft law to improve consumer protection, however government control regarding the state of the resorts in the area of hygiene, product quality and safety can proceed without additional legislation. Transparency regarding ownership of the property and supervising contractual conditions in accordance with the “Vergunningenlandsverordening,” which became applicable in February 2013, is required.

Involving consumers’ representation in the talks pertaining to legislation is considered a valid request according to Dr. Arduin. (Bureau Ombudsman)

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Minister Fleming-Artsen meets with Ambassador from Panama. Sees opportunities for both countries

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands – Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen recently met with the resident Ambassador from Panama Willys Delvalle at the Sint Maarten House in The Hague, the Netherlands.

“We had a very fruitful discussion about both of our countries and how we can explore further developing relations in various areas, one of them being from an economic perspective.

“Sint Maarten as a country needs to develop and expand relations with Latin American countries.  We can learn a lot from Panama.  It has diversified its economy and only has four per cent unemployment.

“Our country already has several direct flights on a weekly basis out of Panama and we need to further develop joint tourism initiatives as an example.  Panama is our doorway to the rest of Latin America and the Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs Cabinet has one of its top priorities being the economy and employment of Sint Maarten people,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen said on Tuesday.    

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Three suspects arrested in Atlantis Casino Robbery. Progress being made in Beach Plaza Casino, RBC Bank and Ultimate Jewelers Robberies

PHILIPSBURG, POLICE HQ - The Detective Department is reporting that there is a lot of progress in the investigations of many of the ongoing armed robberies which have taken place in the latter part of 2014 and in the beginning of 2015.

These investigations include the armed robberies of Beach Plaza Casino which took place on November 2nd 2014, the armed robbery of the R.B.C. bank on the Cannegieter Street which took place on December 30th 2014 and the armed robbery of the Ultimate Jewelers store on Front Street which took place on January 11th 2015.

The Detectives do not want to divulge too much information to avoid hampering the investigations. The investigation into the armed robbery at the Atlantis Casino which took place on November 16th 2014 thus far has had the best results. In this investigation thus far, three suspects have been arrested and who are in custody awaiting a court date.

Even though these investigations are progressively moving forward there is still much more to be done.

The Detective Department is therefore asking all persons in the community who may have information that could help finalize these investigations, to come forward and give this information by calling our 9300 telephone tip line or call the police department directly using the phone number 54-22222 ext. 113, 204 and 205 during week days from 08.00 a.m. through 04.00 p.m.

After all solving these armed robberies or any other criminal act is in the best interest of country Sint Maarten. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club hosts Miss Mature Carnival Queen Pageant Contestants

PHILIPSBURG - The Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club hosted the contestants of the Miss Mature Carnival Queen Pageant in one of its meetings last week under the theme “Life is Like a Pageant”.

The session focused on prepared speeches, impromptu speaking and questioning which is similar to the question and answer segment of the pageant itself.

The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) thanked the Toastmasters for hosting the contestants who described the meeting as a wonderful learning experience.

The reigning Miss Mature Anna Rabess-Richardson was also present. (SCDF)

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Minister Richardson: Anything you say or do can and will be held against you. Minister of Justice Hits back against Dutch Intervention

PHILIPSBURG – On Sunday afternoon, February 1st the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson joined the Prime Minister Hon. Marcel Gumbs in a joint press conference to give an update on integrity issues.

The opening statement by the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson is as follows: “Governing based on perceptions, information manipulation and the use of powers not in the way intended and for the purpose given seems to be the new norm for the Dutch Government to keep its “colonies” in check and under control. These actions seem obviously to be based on the “good” principle that the aim justifies the means.

“What did St Maarten do wrong again, asks everyone? What St. Maarten has done, is doing is the following. St. Maarten has the audacity to take the initiative to itself fix the problems in its integrity architecture signaled in three integrity reports, two of which are of St. Maarten origin. One such recommendation is the establishing of and Integrity Chamber by the Wit-Samson committee, a committee established by St. Maarten.

“The committee recommends the establishing of an Integrity Chamber by National Ordinance and to anchor that institution and ordinance in the constitution of St. Maarten. That is exactly what St. Maarten is doing right now. The National Ordinance establishing an Integrity Chamber is presently at the Council of Advice for review.

“A quarter-master has been appointed to prepare the way for the Chamber and at the same time act as an integrity breech investigator and advisor. St. Maarten has seen to it that the Integrity Chamber is appointed independently and can function independently. There is political influence possible from the Council of Ministers and the parliament of St. Maarten in its composition or functioning.

“The only political influence possibility comes from the Kingdom Council of Ministers who has the possibility to propose the appointment of a member to the supervisory committee of the integrity chamber. The other two members of the supervisory committee are the President of the Joint Court of Justice and the Vice-Chair of the Council of Advice. This supervisory board proposes the persons to be appointed to the Integrity Chamber. The COM cannot deviate from the names proposed. The integrity chamber itself establishes its secretariat.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT!?

“By the way this is a committee (Wit-Samson) for which St. Maarten extended the hand of cooperation to the Netherlands to join and use, but got slapped down, because “the butcher must not test his own meat”. And a slap in the face because “the Government of St. Maarten itself is the subject of investigation”. And adding injury to insult: there is rampant intertwining between the underworld and the Government of St. Maarten. According to Minister Plasterk these accusations are to be found in the integrity reports. And here is where the information manipulation by the Dutch government takes form.

“The Wit-Samson committee explicitly stated that they have not established an intertwining across the board of the underworld with the government of St. Maarten. The committee was explicitly asked to investigate this aspect.

“Not all integrity breaches are criminal offences. Some are a matter of decency in government. The PwC report does not state anywhere that corruption (a criminal offence) is rampant at all levels of government even up to and through the Council of Ministers and the parliament. That is a conclusion drawn by Minister Plasterk and his supporters based on the examples of integrity breeches mentioned in the reports. In fact the PwC reports explicitly states the following:

“This Inquiry is not a penal inquiry or an inquiry designed to forensically establish admissible evidence within the meaning of a penal system.

The services performed do not include the provision of legal advice, and PwC makes no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation nor whether our recommendations are implementable under the law of Sint Maarten. Nothing contained herein should be taken to imply, infer, or in any other way represent legal advice or conclusions.”

“The report explicitly states too that it is an investigation into the architecture of the integrity structure of St. Maarten and not an investigation into the size and frequency of integrity breeches in St. Maarten.

“We cannot conclude that intelligence at the level of the Dutch government is lacking and therefore we can only conclude that this is purposeful miss-information geared towards manipulation of the opinions of the “buhne” and for trying to justify whatever it is they feel they must do to satisfy the hawks in the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament.

“It is ironic that the one recommendation that the Dutch government wants to impose on St. Maarten comes from the very same committee that the Dutch government did not want to participate in because St. Maarten should not investigate itself.

It is nearly comical, if it was not so sad, that the Dutch government is trying to stop St. Maarten from doing the very same thing that the committee recommends: establish by National Ordinance of St. Maarten an Integrity Chamber and anchor it (its independence) in the Constitution of Sint Maarten.

“It is diabolical that this Minister of the Netherlands first asks St. Maarten, via his representative in Philipsburg, to hold off on, delay the speedy establishing of the ordinance so that the Dutch government can give its input to help ensure an acceptable regulation and now declares that St. Maarten does not have a sense of urgency.

“It is outrageous and childish that the created delay is used to in a hurry make a bad piece of legislation, a draft General Kingdom Measure, to impose an Integrity Chamber on St. Maarten in which the clearly political motivated Dutch Ministers of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands have everything to say and St. Maarten is sidelined, only to be able to say to the Second Chamber: see how tough we are on St. Maarten like we promised!?

“It is an outright lie to state that the parliament of Sint Maarten has the last word on integrity breeches, when the sole role of parliament of Sint Maarten is to establish the Integrity National Ordinance on the Integrity Chamber that independently carries out the investigations as recommended by the committee.

“It is disgusting and saddening that Minister Plasterk (being pressured?) simply seems incapable of abiding by or allowed to stick to his owns words that, in accordance with constitutional law and practice, it is first up to St. Maarten to correct the situation:

-          In his letter to the Governor of St. Maarten of 9 december 2013 (Kenmerk: 2013-0000749809) and

-          To the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

“This is what he wrote in the letter to the Governor:

‘De regering van Sint Maarten is vanzelfsprekend de eerst aangewezene om uitvoering te geven aan de aanbevelingen die uit het onderzoek voortvloeien. De Rijksministerraad is uitsluitend aan zet indien en voor zover onverhoopt door de regering van Sint Maarten geen maatregelen getroffen zouden worden die geen recht doen aan aanbevelingen.’

“Furthermore there seems to be a new form of voluntary consultation and cooperation within the Kingdom: ‘Here is a draft General Kingdom Measure in which you have had no say and in which you will be marginalized and voluntarily placed under a form of higher supervision. You have until December 31st 2014 to voluntary (art. 38 Charter) agree to it and voluntary cooperate with it, or we will impose it (art. 51 of the Charter).’ Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson stated in his opening statement on Sunday. (Press Secretariat, Government of Sint Maarten Council of Ministers)

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SCDF dedicate Carnival 2015 To Peterson, Franca, Derby

POND ISLAND, Festival Village - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will dedicate Carnival 2015 to three “giants of Carnival” across different facets of Carnival. The foundation will continue a practice started three-years ago by dedicating every Carnival year to persons who have contributed to Carnival in their own unique ways.

The SCDF will pay tribute to long time parade reveller Ryan Peterson, veteran concert promoter Clarence Derby and Keith Franca, a person the SCDF describes as one of the “founding fathers” of the Carnival foundation and someone who saved St. Maarten Carnival some years ago. “These three men are more than deserving of our gratitude for how they have helped to build the Carnival product,” the SCDF said.

The SCDF described Peterson as a constant and dedicated reveller for years and the embodiment of the Carnival spirit. “Come rain or shine, Ryan showed that Carnival is what you make of it. It’s a time to live life, be free, have fun and revel in all things Carnival. To this day he is still a big Carnival lover and supporter,” the SCDF said.

As for Derby, the SCDF hailed him a promoter, and at times advisor, that simply wanted to see Carnival develop into a premier festival. “Clarence also saved stepped up a few times when we had holes in our schedule to fill and assisted the foundation in too numerous ways to mention. He is a promoter who has brought world-class artists to a very small concert going community and is still doing so. This is no small feat considering the complexities of this market. We appreciate his dedication to St. Maarten’s Carnival.”

Keith Franca is a former top official of Carnival who along with some other dedicated persons literally saved Carnival in the 1980’s. Today he remains a trusted advisor in all things Carnival as he has been for 35 years.  

After experiencing financial difficulties in 1983, the Carnival Committee was on the verge of cancelling Carnival. Franca, then of the Kiwanis Club was called upon for assistance, and the entity known as “Task Force” was born. He was joined by Anselmo Scantlebery, then of the Jaycees Club. This “Task Force” was the for-bearer of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation.

“We cannot shower Keith with enough praise for his passion of the festival. Though he stepped out of the limelight, he remained very active behind the scenes with Celeste Beauperthuy and others. Today we can still (in fact we do) call on Keith for advice. Much of who we are is because of Keith Franca,” the SCDF concluded.

The three honourees will receive their due recognition on the night of the Calypso Finals in Carnival Village. (SCDF)

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