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Youth Sexting Workshop Planned for Nov.20. What Parents Should Know

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport is organizing an interactive and informative panel discussion entitled, “Youth Sexting: What Parents Should Know and the Role of Adults.” The general public, especially parents of primary and secondary school going children, are invited to attend.

Parents, teachers, and other interested persons in the community are encouraged to come out to this discussion which will be held on Wednesday 20th November 2019 at the University of St. Martin from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.

The objective of the workshop is to educate and empower parents, teachers, and the general public via an open panel discussion regarding youth sexting, the influence of social media, the role of adults, schools and the law. Organizers hope to have a fruitful and interesting discussion to bring awareness on this issue and hope that persons leave empowered to address it.

For more information, contact the Student Support Services Division at 543-1235 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) provides services to students referred by the schools. These services consist of psychological services, counseling services, social work services, speech language pathology services    and educational diagnostic services. SSSD also provides career services to students, parent support groups and parent education/information sessions.

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Minimum wages and benefits increase as of January 1st, 2020

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - Income in the Caribbean Netherlands continues to rise as of January 1st, 2020. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment raises the minimum wage on Bonaire by 6.2%, on Saba by 5.3% and on St. Eustatius by 2.7%. Inflation is included in this. The amounts of the various benefits will also increase.

Parents and guardians will also receive more child benefit in 2020. For Bonaire this amount will be $ 83 per child per month. For Saba this amount is $ 84 and for St. Eustatius $ 85.

From 2020 there will also be a supplement for fully and permanently disabled people and for those entitled to Old Age Pension (AOV). With this supplement their income per month will at least equal the Statutory Minimum Wage.

The government has indicated in their agreement that the priority for the Caribbean Netherlands is to improve the economic perspective. To achieve this, incomes must go up and the cost of living must go down.

At the beginning of 2019, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment introduced a first package of measures to increase the Statutory Minimum Wage, child benefit and social relief.

Employer's premiums were also reduced, giving them room to increase employee wages. With the measures taken as of January 1st, 2020, the Ministry is introducing a next package.

The final amounts will be published in the ‘Staatscourant’. The new amounts for benefits and minimum wages for 2020 can also be found on www.rijksdienstcn.com. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Police on course to seize record amount of cocaine in Rotterdam in 2019

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have intercepted a haul of 300 kilograms of cocaine at Rotterdam docks after receiving a tip-off. Three men aged between 22 and 28 were arrested after the drugs were found in a car on the Maasvlakte.

Inquiries revealed that the load had been taken from a container arriving from Brazil. The Telegraaf reported that a record 23,000 kg of cocaine had been seized at the port this year, with an estimated street value of €1.2 bn.

The total includes 15 ‘major hauls’ of 500 kg, with the largest single shipment of 3,000 kg recovered in August. The prosecution service publishes official figures at the end of each year.

The final amount for 2019 is likely to be much higher as November and December are usually the peak season for cocaine smuggling. A customs officer identified only as ‘Peter’ told the Telegraaf he was concerned that extra customs personnel being brought in to deal with the repercussions of Brexit were not being properly trained to work on counter-smuggling operations.

‘They’re going straight out to the port for surveillance work after a three-week course of weapons and self-defence training,’ he said. ‘Whereas in the past you had to work three years for the customs service and complete a four-month surveillance training. Then you were broken in for the first six months by an experienced colleague.’

(DutchNews)

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Old, polluting cars should go to the scrap heap: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Taking old cars off the road would cut nitrogen-based pollution by 35%, research commissioned by the AD has found. The research, carried out by Delft University of Technology, showed that cars older than 15 years are responsible for 50% of fine particulate car pollution, even though they only account for 17% of the Dutch fleet.

The government is due to announce what it plans to cut nitrogen-based pollution later this week. Measures on the table include cutting the maximum speed to 100kph, car-free Sundays and financial bonus for people who trade in their old vehicles.

A previous campaign in 2009 succeeded in removing 80,000 cars before the money ran out. Motoring organisation Bovag and car manufacturers organisation RAI Vereniging have said they are in favour of repeat of that scheme, which at the time encouraged the sale of new, cleaner cars.

‘Almost a third of diesel cars are more than 10 years old,’ RAI chairman Steven van Eijck told the paper. ‘These should be replaced by newer cars which are less polluting. You can do that through making new cars cheaper by abolishing the purchase tax and bringing in a scheme to encourage owners to scrap older cars.’

(DutchNews)

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CPS: Advises persons at risk to take measures to prevent the flu

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – It’s that time of the year when influenza, better known as the flu, becomes more predominant.

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection. Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis, which often require hospitalization.

The flu poses a risk or can be especially dangerous for certain groups such as the elderly (65-years and over), pregnant women, and very young children (aged six months and over) as well as for people with underlying medical conditions known as immunocompromised (such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity, diabetics).

The aforementioned groups are considered high-risk groups and it is highly recommended that these persons get their flu shot (vaccine), advises the Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA).

A representative from Section General Health Care (SGHC) from Ministry VSA, recently attended the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ‘Sub-Regional Influenza Surveillance Meeting and Pandemic Preparedness and Response training,’ in Montego, Jamaica.

PAHO has urged Member States who attended the workshop to update their respective National Influenza Plan and to take the necessary measures to ensure timely surveillance, proper clinical management, ensure strict adherence to infection prevention control measures in health care services, provide adequate supplies of antivirals and prevention, and provide timely treatment of complications.

Based on the outcome of the workshop that brought together more than 30 countries from the Region, SGHC has drafted a plan of action on what steps need to be taken internally annually to ensure that guidelines, reporting and surveillance requirements and protocols are up-to-date and in line with international health regulations.

With respect to flu-prevention guidance, the vaccination offers effective protection against influenza. Persons are also reminded to adhere to proper handwashing and cough etiquettes. Vaccines need to be given each year as flu viruses are always changing.

Influenza spreads from an infected person to others through the air by droplets (secretion) as a result of coughing and/or sneezing, or by direct contact with the virus on hard surfaces or people’s hands that have the viruses on them then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

The flu usually differs from a cold as symptoms develop suddenly and can lead to complications such as chest infections and pneumonia – particularly among the elderly and young children.

Flu symptoms tend to develop abruptly one to three days after infection, and can include: tiredness, high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, poor appetite, and muscle aches.

Most people who get the flu will suffer from mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks. However, some people can develop longer-term health problems, including pneumonia, bronchitis, chest and sinus infections, heart, blood system or liver complications, which can lead to hospitalisation and even death.

As adults consult your physician to assure the correct information as it relates to your vaccination and your health diagnosis, to obtain laboratory confirmation of the condition and acquire treatment for respective condition.

According to CPS, let us prevent the spread or increase of influenza cases by: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Patients who have cold-like symptoms should cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash their hands frequently and correctly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).

Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others and refrain from kissing others and stay at home when your sick.

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Are You Registered for the Free Breast and Health Screening for Nov.16?

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The next Free Breast Awareness & Screening Event is set for Saturday, November 16.

The aforementioned is a collaboration between the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), the Positive Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor.

The next breast screening event is scheduled for November 16 at the Vineyard Building in Philipsburg. To make an appointment, call: 721-545-2298 ext. 404 2242 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Women will be screened for breast abnormalities, in addition to conducting an overall health assessment, a breast cancer screening questionnaire, and education about recognizing breast abnormalities and cancer risk factors.

The information collected is vital to understand the prevalence of breast abnormalities within the population of St. Maarten.

This initiative began in 2017 as a way to educate the community about breast cancer while empowering women with strategies to proactively monitor their health.

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Diamond in the Ruff – The 60th Celebration of St. Maarten Day

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - After the OneSXM Youth Concert (Friday, November 8th at 7 pm ), and the Spiritual-Jollification (Sunday, November 10th 4:30 pm), we celebrate “We Story” with A Concert for SXM, an event organized by Clara Reyes, and is to be held on Monday 11th at the Festival Village.

According to the Head of Culture, Clara Reyes “The concept of St. Maarten’s Day is to have all three concerts show a different facets of us. The young people, in OneSXM Youth Concert, will celebrate their story, the spirituality will come through the Spiritual-Jollification, and A Concert for SXM is an opportunity to showcase the 12 kings monarch - the various Calypso kings who have won over the years. Calypso is a very integral part of our community and our culture, and they’ve been a very important part of the story-telling aspect of St. Maarten. We will have an opportunity through their stories and their songs to revisit some very important things of time in the past of St. Maarten.”

St. Maarten’s Day commemorates the Treaty, which was signed on March 23rd 1648. However, this celebration takes place on November 11th, because of Dr. Petit, who wanted both sides of the island to be able to celebrate this occasion. He realized the French government wouldn't have permitted dismissals of schools except on days established as holidays in France. Therefore, he proposed to celebrate on the day France observed as Armistice Day. His proposal was accepted by Dr. Claude Wathey and the island council.

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of this dual Island Nation Sint Maarten /St. Martin jointly celebrating the St. Maarten Day. “In researching the 60th Anniversary, it is described as “diamond jubilee”, and the diamond is always described as enduring and unconquerable - the strongest of all natural minerals, so for me, it encapsulates the idea of what St. Maarten is and how we can grow even stronger in our kinship,” says Reyes.

This history of shared traditions and cultural practices extend as far back as 1648, beginning with the first settlers on this shore and extending through the tumultuous and dehumanizing epoch of enslavement. Our kinship relationship stood fast while transitioning through various stages of our development, the birth of the tourism economy from simpler days of agriculture, farming, and fishing days. Those halcyon days of innocence gave way to modern, fast–paced, frenzied, and sometimes erratic and hedonistic lifestyle. Still, the St. Maarten people have held together, held fast to beliefs and values that have stood the test of times and political upheavals, influx of new peoples, and new traditions. The St. Maarten spirit of generosity and embracing hospitality has remained the beacon for all who come to our shores.

“St. Maarten Day is an opportunity to truly connect with the idea of what it means to be living and working on St. Maarten. This is my home, by choice, since I was a three-year-old child. It is where I formed into an adult. It’s given me a wonderful childhood. I felt like I’ve had such a magical childhood, and everything of who I am took shape on this beautiful island I call sweet St. Maarten.

St. Maarten’s Day is a special day for me, to always connect and remind myself of this beautiful island. It’s an opportunity to put things in place to help solidify her presence, to help create a very dense rich image and experience of the full scope of all the individuals and characters that shaped to make St. Maarten home. This island is beautiful, but more important are the people I’ve had through my childhood that helped shaped me and gave St. Maarten it’s definition as a place of wonder, creativity, talent, history, vibrant and rhythmic culture, and the history of the people for the resistance from enslavement to emancipation. St. Maarten means a lot to me.”

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St. Maarten Day 60th Diamond Jubilee Jollification

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “Jollification is something we naturally do as St. Maarteners” says Benjamin Bell, organizer of the Spiritual-Jollification concert “as we come together as a people and just enjoy each other’s time. Sometimes, through jollification we build homes, everybody helps each get their house done, and we have food, drinks, and have fun with each other.

A spiritual jollification is the same, as we do it as spiritual people and believers, coming together as the church and the body of Christ, having fellow with each other. That’s the basics to who we are, as a people who normally come together and enjoy each other’s presence in love and happiness.”

On Sunday, November 10th, the Spiritual-Jollification, a praise and gospel worship concert, will be taking place at the Festival Village at 4pm sharp. This concert will be featuring church choirs, gospel groups, and singers. The Spiritual-Jollification is one of the concerts that will be held in honour of St. Maarten’s Day, this year’s theme being “We-Story”. “We Story” is a celebration of all things St. Maarten in an interdisciplinary cultural manifestation befitting the longevity of existence through landmark years of 1848 to 1948, and 1959 to 2019 and all other pivotal events through the years.

“I believe that when it comes to spiritual aspects, you never know what God will do, but I believe this island needs healing in a lot of different ways,” Benjamin Bell explains “Sometimes we need to recheck ourselves to re-evaluate who we are and where we want to be as a people. I think that the Spiritual-Jollification will be a time for us to strip away all the negativity happening around the island and give us the opportunity to free ourselves and feel our sense of love and pride for St. Maarten.”

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Open day BKCN on Saba

SABA - On Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 the Fire Department Caribbean Netherlands (BKCN) organized an open day on Saba. This in context of the recruitment of new staff. During this open day BKCN also provided information on fire prevention to the residents of the island.

This year, the brigade purchased new equipment, and this was also showed during the open day. The fire department Caribbean Netherlands thanks the Sacred Heart School, the Saba Comprehensive School and the people of Saba.

On November 9th, 2019, BKCN organizes a "Family Fun Day" at the Cove Bay from 11:00 AM to 04:00 PM. The public is welcome at this activity.

BKCN Saba 3

 

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CIBC AND GNB FINANCIAL GROUP LIMITED REACH AGREEMENT

SINT MAARTEN/BARBADOS - CIBC today announced that they have reached agreement on the purchase of a portion of CIBC’s shares in its Caribbean entity, FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited (“FirstCaribbean”) by GNB Financial Group Limited. (“GNB”). GNB will purchase 66.73% of the shares of FirstCaribbean, subject to the approval of local regulators, while CIBC will retain a 24.9% interest in the Caribbean bank.  

“FirstCaribbean is a strong, well-performing business that continues to grow across the region. FirstCaribbean remains laser focused on delivering on its strategy – providing its clients with first class service through a modern everyday banking experience and providing its employees with the best possible work experience,” said Colette Delaney, CEO, FirstCaribbean.  

“FirstCaribbean will remain the strong entity it is today, committed to servicing its clients in the region,” said Jaime Gilinski, Chairman of GNB Financial Group Limited. “I have been impressed by the strength and stability of FirstCaribbean and am excited about its prospects for the future.”

GNB is wholly owned by Starmites Corporation S.ar.L, the financial holding company of the Gilinski Group. The Gilinski Group has banking operations in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, and Cayman Islands with approximately US $15 billion in combined assets. 

FirstCaribbean is one of the largest regionally listed financial services institutions in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean, with US$11.5 billion in assets and market capitalization of US$2.1 billion, as at 31st July 2019. FirstCaribbean also has a representative office in Hong Kong providing business development, relationship management and fund administration.

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