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Persons with Respiratory Challenges should take precautionary measures from Saharan dust

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Sahara dust that has been plaguing the North eastern Caribbean including St. Maarten on an annual basis and becomes more prevalent during the summer months affecting persons with allergies and respiratory problems. 

The dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa causes sneezing, nasal congestion, respiratory problems, eye itching and other allergy symptoms. 

The dust in the Caribbean region is common around this time of year and according to weather experts, coincides with hurricane season.  

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, as a preventive measure and in preparation for the next time Sahara dust impacts the country, advises persons who suffer from emphysema, asthma and other lung disorders, and are feeling ill, to consult their family physician.

Other measures that can be taken is to keep doors and windows closed and do not go outside if the Sahara dust is prevalent in the sky which can be visibly seen from a haze over the horizon.

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Jewelry store robbed on Saturday

PHILIPSBURG - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Saturday September 22nd at approximately 11.15 a.m. at BE DAZZELED jewelry store located on Front Street, police said in a statement on Monday.

According to reports two unknown men robbed the store with their face covered and used a canister containing Pepper spay and sprayed the employee standing closest to the door with it in her face.

One of the suspects then jumped the display-counter and took several trays of jewelry, several boxes of diamonds including several gold necklaces. After committing this act the suspects fled on foot towards Back Street.

A police bike patrol was immediately sent to the scene to investigate what was taking place. On their arrival the suspects had already left the area. On the way to the scene the patrol however encountered several pieces of jewelry on the street leading from the jewelry store.

These items were all confiscated for further investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and the investigating team is asking anyone who has information in connection with this case to get in contact with the Police Department by calling 54-22222 ext. 213/214, the anonymous police tip line #9300 or the emergency number 911. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Fewer people are victims of crime, but youngsters top the list

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of people reporting they were victims of a crime has gone down 25% since 2012, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

Some 15% of the population was the victim of a crime last year, according to the latest CBS monitor, which is carried out every two years and based on information from 150,000 people.

The under-25s are still most likely to be victims, with one in five saying they had direct experience of crime in the previous year. Vandalism and theft were the most common crimes, but youngsters were more likely than any other age group to have experience of violent crime.

Youngsters are also most likely to be suspects. In 2012, 336 in every 10,000 young adults was suspected of a crime by the police, but last year that had fallen to 208 per 10,000, the CBS said. (DutchNews)

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3,144 POUNDS OF TRASH COLLECTED DURING ENGAGE CARIBBEAN GEMS TRASH RUN

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Engage Foundation had a mission to clean St. Maarten one run at a time. That mission was completed on Sunday morning during the First Annual Engage Caribbean Gems Trash Run. Six teams collected a total of 3,144 lbs. of trash. 

Manu Budhrani of Caribbean Gems aptly reminded participants that “it is our island and with initiatives such as this, we show just how much garbage the island has, but it should not be like this! There should be some other way that people handle and treat their garbage”. He congratulated all the teams for coming out and taking part in the event.

The six teams, Pain Cave Tribe, Sentinel Guardians, Crossfit SXM, U 2 Can Move, Tribal Hogs, and JCI SXM Waste Slayers, took off from Raoul Illidge Sports Complex and made their way to their zones in the districts of Cole Bay, Simpsonbay and Cay Bay, collecting trash along the way and within their respective zones. 

The winning team, Pain Cave Tribe received $1000.00 towards its charities of choice, Animal Defenders and Safe Haven. “Some events focus on fitness, some events focus on awareness and some events benefit the entire community, but Engage Foundation managed to combine all three of these into one incredible event. We were able to challenge ourselves, laugh and clean up our beautiful home all at the same time.”, said Nicole Erato, of Pain Cave Tribe. 

Sentinel Guardians placed second with $500.00, which will go towards the Youth Extravaganza Foundation. “Engage foundation organized an amazing event today, a challenging event that combined positively contributing to our community on one hand and promoting team spirit on the other- can’t wait for the next event.” stated Sentinel Guardians’ Marlon Matser.  

Crossfit SXM placed third with $250.00, destined for No Kidding with Our Kids Foundation. Team member, Susy Maidwell Piscione: “Today proved that winning really doesn’t matter, instead being part of making a difference is so much more important.” 

The trash was taken to St. Maarten Recycling, where it will be sorted and sent for recycling. Engage was pleased to team up and be able to make an even greater impact on the environment, bringing the “run” full circle. 

Engage Foundation encourages all residents to re-use, reduce and keep St. Maarten clean by disposing of their garbage responsibly. The foundation thanks its partner Caribbean Gems, sponsors Topper’s, St. Maarten Recycling, Alite B.V, Payne Shipping, Ace Home Center, Nature Foundation, Viva Signs, Deon Swart, Heavenly Water, T-Shirt Maxx, as well as First Responder Cayley Mackay of Nicole Tri SXM and Richard Hazel of RTGY Photography, and all the volunteers for making the Trash Run a huge success.

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Ripple effects

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Everything affects everything. We are interconnected, we are interdependent. Hurricane Irma has had a negative effect on many of us, but I will not use her as the sole focus of this article.

Let’s talk about one of the most important subjects in the world. Money or our income. We know our health is the most important one but If we don’t have an income we can’t pay our bills.

Mortgage, rent, utilities, food, clothes, education, school fees, uniforms, books you name it. I have heard it said that one should have at least 6 month’s savings equivalents to our monthly expenditures. Easier said than done. If we are employed and paid the minimum wage or less, it means that we are part of the working poor. I am sure that there are other definitions, but I leave that up to you to do the research.

As I mentioned earlier, it is said that we should have at least 6 month’s savings equivalents to our monthly expenditures. Question, how can one save when we are earning the minimum wage or less? What kind of rent can we afford to pay? Hence the shacks which all too often can lead to unsanitary situations, and in addition to that, dangerous situations where extension cords are passed from one building to the other.

Another thing minimum wage or less means we can’t afford medical coverage or private insurance. This is why it is important to get the National Health Care Insurance Law or policy in place. At the same time some employers refuse to register us with SZV.

It means that depending on the seriousness of your condition you might die. When you go to the Supermarkets what can you afford to buy? It is said eating is healthy I will add it is also expensive. I think more consistent control should be held on imported goods.

Someone sent me a copy of the 21-page price list from the economic affairs department informing the public of government prices for food, construction materials, produce and so on. I randomly picked out one particular item. The Bop Insecticide spray. The list mentioned the 250 mL and 450 mL quoting the price on each.

Reality is that there is also the 600 mL can that is sold but it is not mentioned on the list. I think it’s time government determines what products can be brought into the country, especially the Brand names.

Quality is what has to be first and foremost. I listened recently to a discussion held on eradicating poverty by now I think 2030. I think the gold post has been moved several times. It stated that world production has increased by 70% but wages by only 20%. In other word we are producing more but earning less income.

Translation the rich get richer and the poor poorer. To me it does not matter how many meetings, discussions, forums are held on this subject, as long has the status quo continues where persons are working harder but making less or not compensated, we will spend the next 100 years talking and things will only get worse.

Companies are profiting off the backs of the people. Why can’t we also benefit? Let me close with this. Wells Fargo Bank will be laying off some 26000 persons or so between now and 2020 because they are going digital.

(Cutting cost, who care about the social ramifications). What kind of ripple effect will this have? Locally Banks on St Maarten are also on the same track to do likewise. Not positive for sure. Ripple effect.

George Pantophlet

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Small Island Development and Agroecology: USM kicks-off its Seminar Series

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On the evening of Thursday, 21 September 2018, over 60 people attended the public seminar on Small Island Sustainable Development and Agroecology at the University of St. Martin (USM).

Invited speakers included Tadzio Bervoets of the Nature Foundation, University of Amsterdam Ph.D. researcher Arjen Alberts and Denicio Wyatte of the St. Maarten Agriculture Research and Development Foundation.

The event kicked-off the 2018-2019 USM Seminar Series, which is meant to house and promote knowledge, science, research and ideas of innovation flourishing on St. Maarten and in our region for the purpose of building a university that caters to the social needs and collective hopes of the country within the framework of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.

Selected for her involvement in community debates and dialogues, Ms. Melissa Gumbs hosted the evening by welcoming guests, introducing speakers and leading a structured Q&A session following presentations on Nature Conservation, Small Island Tourism Economy and Agroecology.

While USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona offered brief words of welcome, Drs. Loekie Morales gave a motivational introduction to the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“One thing that remains clear is that, based on the information we received this evening, St. Maarten needs to start looking beyond tourism. And even when thinking about tourism, we need to come to terms with how tourism has changed,” said Dr. Carmona during the seminar’s hors d’oeuvres reception which was sponsored by UNESCO St. Maarten.

Denicio Wyatte recalled that throughout the last couple of years, his Research and Development Centre has hosted young guests from the United States and Europe, mostly students and visitors interested in community development and agriculture.

“No longer do they necessarily want to stay in big hotels and beaches, they want to come to where the people are living and working, they want to see the communities”, he said.

Mr. Arjen Alberts clearly made an argument for rethinking development on St. Maarten. During his talk, he made reference to the place of migration and immigrant communities in the reality of small island tourism economies stating, “we can’t understand our society without knowing that small island tourism is what draws the immigrants.”

Meanwhile, the renowned activist, researcher and nature conservationist Tadzio Bervoets made reference to the need for stronger and enforced laws, an environmental tax and a national plan for waste management.

All three speakers agreed that USM has a role to play in St. Maarten’s post-Irma recovery and future socio-economic development.

Among the public figures present at Thursday’s seminar were MP Silveria Jacobs, Minister of Public Health, Social Development Labor Emil Lee and Mr. Jason Fan of the Beijing International Exchange Association’s Committee of Sustainable Development.

In October, USM is scheduled to hold a seminar on Health and the Natural Sciences. The USM Seminar Series is co-sponsored by the Think&Do Tank of St. Maarten.

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International Day of Peace on September 21 Peace and Justice for All

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Each Year on September 21th, the United Nations (UN) celebrate International Day of Peace. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The theme for the 2018 Day of Peace is “The Right to Peace - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. The theme celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration – the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages - is as relevant today as it was on the day that it was adopted.

Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” calls for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. A peaceful society is one where there is justice and equality for everyone. Human Rights are instrumental to get and maintain peace.

“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document.” -- Secretary-General António Guterres stated.

What is our Sint Maarten government intending to do on Peace and Justice for all?

Before 2010 Sint Maarten and Curacao have started to ‘Build Strong Institutions’, with the establishment of the High Council of State, The Ombudsman, The SER etc. If we look at the current Governing program 2018-2022, ‘Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten’, some key priority areas for development of the country are mentioned. The parts that refer to SDG 16, Peace and Justice, building strong institutions, are: ‘Introduce Electoral Reform and Implement Integrity Chamber.’ Strengthen collaboration with Saint Martin and Kingdom partners are also to be considered falling under SDG 16. On action level: Develop a National Safety and Security plan and Be more safety smart, fall indirectly under Peace, justice for all.

The themes Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability are also highlighted in the St. Maarten Governing program, as also Electoral Reform. It states: ‘We must consider that there is a fundamental public lack of trust in past governments.

We believe that both constitutional and electoral reform can contribute to the restoration of trust. While Sint Maarten enjoys free and fair elections, an increasing concern is, that there is still a need to educate the community of our electoral system.

To this end we will review the laws governing elections, improve electoral awareness on all levels and where necessary improve the democratic process of electing a parliament and appointing a government to office.’

Under ‘Protecting Industries and Communities’ the Government of Sint Maarten is focusing on Crime prevention, and it states: ‘To protect the people of Sint Maarten and visitors to our island, we must intensify the crime prevention practices in the Justice chain. Strategic and tactical deployment of our officers in critical business and residential districts are some of the much-needed deterrents against crimes. However, we must not see crime prevention solely from the standpoint of increasing police presence. There must be significant investments in our Youth to prevent juvenile delinquency.

To reduce crime in general we will strengthen our neighborhood crime watch programs, deploy more blue on the street, better equip and train the community police officers, finalize and extend the camera project. However, the task of crime prevention does not stop here and will have to include active identity theft programs and educate the community on the ills of the internet as it relates to private information.’

The Right to Peace

The Universal Declaration states in Article 3. “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” These elements build the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Yet, the Universal Declaration does not include a separate article on “Right to Peace”.

What does “The Right to Peace” mean to you?  What can you do?

In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the UN calls upon all to act. You can support SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions by seeking peaceful resolution of conflict when disagreements arise around you.  You can be part of the solution by taking small steps. You can prevent an injustice at school or in your community by adopting a non-violent approach to problem solving and reporting potential crimes, including online bullying.   

You can promote human rights by collecting and promoting videos of as many articles as possible in as many languages as possible. Record yourself reading one of the 30 articles of the Declaration in any of the 135 languages currently available and share your video with your friends.

You can engage by speaking up when others are at risk and stand with others’ human rights at work, in school and around the dinner table.

You can share your ideas with the UN through #peaceday and #standup4humanright.

You can reflect how each of us can stand up for our rights, every day. Human rights are everyone's rights.

St. Maarten’s Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) is the designated focal point for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda on St. Maarten. Ms. Drs. L. Morales, program manager at BAK can be contacted to be part of the SDGs process.

You can reach her via government email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or per telephone number +1721-5271223.

The governing program can be downloaded from the Sint Maarten government Website www.sintmaartengov.org

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Prime Minister Romeo Marlin oversees a responsible and legal reorganization of PSS

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In recent years, the Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS) has found itself in financial difficulty, which has been exacerbated by the passing of Hurricane Irma & Maria.

The current monthly income of PSS is simply not sufficient to cover their monthly expenses. In the current circumstances, the Government of Sint Maarten has been financially supporting the operations of PSS.

As a result of this unsustainable financial situation in the month of July, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin has put together a committee that consists of PSS management, St. Maarten Communication Union (SMCU), Cabinet of the Prime Minister and SOAB.

The objective of the committee is to oversee the downsizing and reorganizing PSS to create a sustainable operation that will continue to carry out its core postal tasks.

The concession to provide postal services was given to PSS after Sint Maarten became a country on October 10th, 2010. The Government of Sint Maarten has an obligation (by international laws & treaties) to provide postal services to the public.

Considering, that the PSS building was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Government of Sint Maarten will provide PSS with an alternative location in the building that previously housed the Civil Registry.

This decision will eliminate the current rental payments and reduce the overall monthly expenses of the company.

Since its inception, the committee has met regularly and has arrived at the phase where on August 17th the SMCU union and PSS management presented the downsizing agreements and plans to the employees of PSS.

The transition process and the rights of the employees in accordance with the CLA and Social Plan were explained. The employees received the Agreement for Downsizing PSS, the Transition Organizational Structure and the Formation plan.

The employees were given the opportunity to ask questions and they were also asked to fill in an Inventory Form indicating their choice.

An Appeals Committee consisting of three independent persons (one chosen by the union, one by management and one jointly by the two) was also established for employees who want to contest the decision of management.

In the current formation, PSS consists of 23 employees including management, in its future reorganized structure PSS will consist of 14 persons divided over 6 functions that are necessary to provide the core postal services in a sustainable manner. Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin has requested that the committee conduct this downsizing process in a responsible, legal and transparent manner.

As of September 10th, 2018, a new supervisory board of the PSS NV has been appointed that consists of three persons namely, Marinka Gumbs – President of PSS Board, Raymond Romeo – PSS Board Member and Kurt Sprott – PSS Board Member.

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Minister Geerlings encourages students to stay in school

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Finance Minister Perry Geerlings received a group of students from the St. Dominic School Form 2, at his office at the Government Administration Building, Soualiga Road #1 in Philipsburg on Tuesday morning.

Minister Geerlings spoke briefly with the students about the role of the Minister of Finance for the Government of St. Maarten. He encouraged the students to stay in school and also reminded them that they are being prepared to take up leadership roles in the future.

The students along with their Social Studies Teacher received a full tour of the Government Administration building from Government's Head of Division Resources and Support, Mr Erno Labega.

Labega routinely gets requests from various schools to host students for special tours of the facility. During those visits, Labega gives students an explanation of the multiple departments starting in the Reception area.

He also ensures that the students get to meet the ministers, so they can ask questions and get first-hand information about matters of general interest.

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Five women arrested. Businesses warned to be on the alert

PHILIPSBURG - On Tuesday September 18th police arrested five females that were trying to use false documents as a means of identification at a local bank and the Census office, police said on Wednesday.

“The females identified with initials W.B, S.M and R.E were arrested trying to use a falsified license as a form of identification and suspects with initials R.R as well as another female suspect were arrested trying to present falsified birth certificates. All females arrested remain in police custody for further investigation.

“KSPM (Ed Sint Maarten Police Force) are asking persons in the community and businesses to remain vigilant, due to the fact that there has been an increase in the use of falsified documents recently.” (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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