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Supporting the Kidz at Sea Fd. to inspire the next generation of sailors at the Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Sailing is a sport that you can take up at all ages. As we countdown to this year’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, teenagers from St. Maarten are getting race ready to put their hard training into practice. 

A key event on the Caribbean race schedule, the regatta attracts some of the world’s elite sailors and crews, with fast and furious racing in monohulls, maxis and multihulls.

Garth Steyn, Co-Founder of The Kidz at Sea Foundation, comments, “To be part of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta means that our up and coming sailors, all aged between 15 and 19, are treated warmly and with welcome. That helps them cross over the feeling of being a newbie outsider to being ‘belongers’, as we say in the Caribbean. Because the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta attracts professional racers and amateurs in multiple classes, the racing is extraordinary and the visual thrill of sailing amongst the large number of boats is breathtaking – a fantastic experience for young sailors to build on.”

The Kidz at Sea Foundation is dedicated to providing young people with access to the opportunities that exist within St. Maarten’s marine industry, including water sports and other water-based activities.  The projects and programs are geared toward teaching participants life skills to help them succeed both on and off the water, developing skills such as team work, communication, accountability and self-reliance.

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Race Director, Paul Miller, comments, “Supporting the Kidz at Sea Foundation encourages young people to get out on the water, which is essential to the future of the sport and the island. We wish them every single success as they put their hard work and training into practice and experience the thrill of racing in our stunning waters.”

The two main Kidz at Sea programs are “Build Your Future” and “Zero to Hero”.  Build Your Future, which is housed within the island’s largest public high school – Milton Peters College – primarily focuses on teaching high school students to build boats using the traditional methods and offers free weekend sailing to any interested student. 

The Zero to Hero program focuses on unemployed youth in St. Maarten and is housed in Simpson Bay Marina.  The target age group is primarily 17 to 35, with the goal of helping to reduce the shortage of Scuba Diving Masters, Boat Masters and quality Boat Repair Technicians within the local labour pool.  The three month, full time training sessions are fully sponsored and offer internationally recognised certifications which enable an individual to seek gainful employment in a career that offers higher earnings and greater potential then they might otherwise be eligible for.

Find out more about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, St. Maarten and island life here:www.heinekenregatta.com.

Kidz at sea 2

Kidz at Sea 4

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Police discover €80m worth of crystal meth at drugs lab

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have found 400 kilos of crystal meth with a street value of around €80m at a drugs lab in Wateringen in the province of Zuid-Holland. Six men aged between 26 to 53 were arrested at the scene, after police raided the premises in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Apart from the methamfetamine, police also found MDMA, the central component of ecstasy, and various vats of chemicals. Regional broadcaster WOS.nl said the owner of the premises had moved his car company to The Hague and had rented out the warehouse at the Wateringen business park. ‘The lights were often on during the night’, a woman who worked in an adjacent building told the broadcaster. (DutchNews)
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Teacher suspended after Mohammed comments, MPs call for answers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A trade school in Hoofddorp has suspended a teaching assistant following a discussion about Islam which got out of hand, broadcaster NOS reported on Wednesday. The technical studies teacher, an avowed Christian, is alleged to have told a pupil that the prophet Mohammed had married a girl of eight and ‘would be seen in the Netherlands as a paedophile’. The teaching assistant told the broadcaster the discussion started when one girl told another that her mother considered him to be haram, which means unclean. When he objected, other pupils joined in and the concierge was forced to break up the group, NOS said. School board chief Jan Rath said that the dispute had caused upset both within and outside the class. ‘That is why we have decided to have a time out period, so we can get to the bottom of exactly what happened.’ Teaching union Aob said it is concerned that a member of staff had been suspended and that this would make it difficult for him to return to the same school. MPs from the VVD, ChristenUnie and anti-Islam PVV have asked the education minister to comment. (DutchNews)
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BZSE Attorneys at Law/Tax lawyers expands with new attorney

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - BZSE, the largest law firm in St. Maarten, expanded its team of Attorneys with a new member. Jeroen Vlasblom was admitted to the bar of St. Maarten on February 22nd, 2019. BZSE already had 9 attorneys in St. Maarten and 2 in Curaçao. 

Vlasblom grew up in Dordrecht (the Netherlands). He holds a master’s degree in both law and sociology and started his legal career at a German Dutch law firm in Berlin. Afterwards, he worked as a paralegal for De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, a major Dutch lawfirm in Amsterdam.  

Vlasblom said that he was very happy with his move to Sint Maarten: “Sint Maarten offers a good atmosphere under the Caribbean sun, an international environment and immense cultural & linguistic diversity. The laws of St. Maarten are a legal treasure, as they reflect the history of this Caribbean society, its modern diversity and incorporate legal concepts from various legal traditions.”

“BZSE’s expertise in a wide range of legal fields is something to hold dear. It is an unmatched opportunity to work daily with experts in labor, commercial, tax and banking law. Legal fields are interlinked and due to the firm’s broad range of experts, BZSE provides the opportunity for me to gain experience in various fields and to obtain an in-depth understanding of the workings of the law.” 

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Grand Opening of Regatta Village marks start of the countdown to Regatta

SIMPSON BAY - Boats are arriving, teams gathering, serious sailing and race tactics discussed and evening plans for serious fun prepared as the countdown to the start of the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta continues with the Grand Opening of the Regatta Village.

Organisers, volunteers, local residents and competitors gathered to witness Race Director Paul Miller formally launch this year’s event, slicing the cork off a bottle of champagne in flamboyant style.  Robbie Ferron, one of the founders of the Regatta and a former Commodore of St. Maarten Yacht Club said this year’s event “welcomed in a new era.” He was joined by another former Commodore, Ian Hope Ross, who said, “This year is a highlight for next year’s 40th, and we welcome old friends and new.”

A key event on the Caribbean race schedule, the regatta attracts some of the world’s elite sailors and crews, with fast and furious racing in monohulls, maxis and multihulls with six races held over four days.  For those looking for a more relaxed experience, the "Island Time Class" designed for cruisers, offers one race a day, ensuring all the fun of the regatta, without the stress!

Part of the attraction of this regatta is in its variety, both in size of boat, origin and aspirations.  Some of the world’s most elite performance race boats, such as Polish-enteredVarsovie, a Swan 100S will be racing head to head againstUmiko.  This stunning Nautor Swan Frers 80 is skippered by yacht broker Bill Titus with a crew that collectively have raced in 150 St. Maarten Heineken Regattas, but this is the first time onUmiko.   Bill comments, “I first raced in St. Maarten in 1993. The balance of serious sailing, warm waters and lifestyle draws me back and it is great to see the regatta still appealing to professional and amateur sailors from across the world. It’s about having fun together as a team out on the water in a beautiful yacht.”

Some of the tightest and most competitive racing, says Race Director Paul Miller, will be in the CSA 3 (Performance 40) group with 11 entries; meanwhile the five boats from Poland, includingSailing Poland, the Volvo Ocean 65 formerly known as MAPFRE, will be head to head againstI love Poland, a Volvo Open 70.  Both these boats demonstrate Poland’s commitment to developing young and promising sailors from Olympic classes into a regular professional Sailing Poland Race Team.  “To acquire this boat [Sailing Poland] was a step forward in our mission to become one of the largest sailing organisations in Poland,” said Piotr Zygo, Sailing Poland’s CEO.  

At the other end of the scale, the St Maarten Heineken Regatta attracts families and cruising sailors, some of whom are en route to other destinations.  Dobro Dani, an Elan 434 owned by Jason and Roberta Bowman, are exactly halfway in their journey from Croatia to Vancouver.  “We are really looking forward to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and excited to be racing our boat in the Caribbean,” said Jason.  “We’re looking forward to tradewind round the can sailing and have heard rave reviews of the nightly parties and entertainment.”

On shore, the legendary parties at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta continue to excel this year with festivities continuing long into the night.   The Grand Opening saw live music from Remo and the Barbwire Band, with acts during the week including “Queen of Soca” Alison Hinds, Shermanology, Fatman Scoop with the highlight at the final night being The Jacksons, live on stage.

As skipper Trevor Middleton from UK-based Sun Fast 3600Black Sheepsaid, “We have never done the regatta before, but the reputation precedes it.  It sounds like a good mix of sailing, drinking and parties, what is not to like about that?”

Find out more about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, St. Maarten and island life here:www.heinekenregatta.com

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Nearly half of secondary school children have a job

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – More than 236,000 children aged between 15 and 20 have a paid job, accounting for nearly half the total age group. The proportion has gone up from 42% in the last five years, said the statistics agency CBS. 

The most popular job is stacking shelves in the supermarket, followed by working on the tills for girls and newspaper delivery for boys. Most school pupils work less than 12 hours a week and earn an average of €1,600 per year. 

Boys earn more on average than girls for reasons that the CBS said were ‘unclear’.(DutchNews)

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Netherlands needs 50,000 foreign workers a year to keep economy running

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands needs to attract 50,000 foreign workers a year from the rest of the European Union to make up for shortages in the labour market, according to CBS figures. 

The statistics agency said around 750,000 economic migrants had arrived in recent years, mostly from Poland and other former Eastern Bloc nations, often to take up jobs in sectors where there are not enough trained Dutch personnel, such as logistics. 

Migrant labour has also become an issue in the campaign for the provincial elections on March 20 because of concerns about the poor quality of temporary housing workers live in, sometimes for high rents. 

In Limburg local authorities and businesses have drawn up an action plan to improve housing conditions as demand for foreign workers increases, while in Brabant the provincial assembly held an inquiry into holiday parks where many workers end up living. 

Businesses and recruitment agencies say the Dutch labour market is losing out to near neighbours such as Denmark and Germany as competition increases to recruit personnel from abroad in countries with low unemployment. 

The jobless rate is also falling in Poland, driving up wages in the domestic market. The association of Dutch recruitment agencies (ABU) has calculated that foreign workers contribute €11 billion a year to the national income. 

‘Without labour migrants the economy would grind to a halt,’ Brabant provincial deputy Bert Pauli told NOS. (DutchNews)

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Public prosecutor pins evidence hopes on IS payroll information

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch public prosecution department has payroll lists with the names of people who worked for IS, including jihadis who have returned to the Netherlands, the AD said on Friday. 

The department is using the lists, which cover the period 2016 to June 2017, in court cases against Dutch jihadis, the paper said. The documents come from the FBI. Dutch jihadis face jail on their return for being members of a terrorist organisation but actual evidence is hard to come by. 

Many claim to have worked as cooks or nurses, rather than to have taken part in actual fighting. One Dutch national whose name is said to appear on the lists is Maseh N, who returned from Syria at the end of last year. 

The department hopes to use this as evidence that N did work for IS, the AD said. He has told officials that he wanted to return to the Netherlands as soon as he got there in 2015 and claims to have been jailed after refusing to fight. 

He was caught crossing into Turkey from Syria in October last year and has been in custody since then. The Dutch security service estimates 310 Dutch nationals have gone to IS territory since 310, of whom around one third were female.  

Around 140 are still said to be there, 55 have returned and 80 have been killed. Some 35 are said to be in prison or refugee camps. In addition, 175 minors with a claim on Dutch nationality are in the region, most of whom were born there.  (DutchNews)

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Nurse charged with four murders via insulin injections

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A nurse from Rotterdam appeared in court in Rotterdam on Friday charged with four murders and seven attempted murders carried out by injecting elderly patients with insulin. 

Rahiied A, 22, was earlier charged with murdering six patients and attempting to kill six more after prosecutors investigated 15 suspicious deaths of patients at nursing homes. 

A worked at the homes as a trainee or locum nurse between January 2016 and November 2017. The public prosecution department said in a short website statement on Friday that 11 of the 15 cases have now been included in the charge sheet but did not disclose why two murder charges have since been dropped. 

The case came to light at the end of 2017 after a female resident in one of the care homes became seriously ill and was taken to hospital, where doctors found a high quantity of insulin in her blood. 

A is also accused of stealing medicines and medical documents and falsifying his ‘declaration of good behaviour’ (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag), which is a prerequisite for jobs that involve working with vulnerable people.(DutchNews)

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Amsterdam’s population poised to beat 60-year-old record

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The population of Amsterdam is set to hit 873,000 at some point this year, finally topping the old record of 872,000 which dates back to 1959. 

But it will still take until 2032 for the city’s population to top the magic one million barrier, Amsterdam’s statistics department OIS said on Thursday. The growth is due to people moving to the city rather than the arrival of more children, OIS said. 

The birth rate in the capital is just 1.4, well below the national average of 1.7. More Dutch nationals left the city than moved in and the growth is down to the arrival of foreign workers. 

In total, 38,000 new immigrants set up home in Amsterdam last year, more than replacing the 25,000 who left. Of them, most came from Britain, the US, India and Germany.  

This, OIS said, means the city is becoming more international and better educated. People on low incomes remain in the city because of the supply of social housing but lower middle-class families are being forced out because they cannot afford to rent or buy a home, the organization said.  (DutchNews)

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