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PERIDOT FOUNDATION TO HOST EVENT WITH DR. FEY VAN DER DIJS AS KEYNOTE SPEAKER

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Founder of the Peridot Foundation stated Gracita Arrindell said on Monday in a statement: “November 25th upcoming is the official starting date of ‘sixteen days of activism against gender based violence campaign’ International day for the elimination of violence against women that bind government and civic society to organize actions to end violence against women and girls all over the globe.”     

Arrindell continued: “This year’s theme chosen by the United Nations is ORANGE THE WORLD # HEAR ME TOO. This theme is meant to enhance and continue the promotion of dialogue on the matter of violence against women and girls. According to official statements, the color Orange as in previous years is the color unifying all commemorative activities around the world.”

Gracita said, “Tuesday November 27th our guest speaker Dr. Fey van der Dijs will address the audience under the theme: Recognizing the effects of stress on Women and hormonal changes. As dr. van der Dijs stated Quote; “every woman has a story to tell, therefor this years United Nations chosen theme # HEAR ME TOO, is very appropriate. The event will be held on the parking lot at the Orange Grove Mall on Union road in Cole bay, next to the Health Care Laboratory Sint Maarten. The program will be from 7:30 to 9:30 pm and will be interactive with the audience following the introduction remarks by Dr. van der Dijs.

Arrindell concludes: “The increase in relational violence and violence in general in our community has not gone unnoticed by our foundation. Unfortunately this trend was expected to increase as mentioned in earlier statements made in December 2017 after the passing of hurricane Irma. Peridot Foundation expresses its heartfelt condolences to all victims of abuse in all shape and form.”

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Minister Giterson visits Mental Health Facility

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Last Friday, on November 16, 2018, the honorable Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson visited the Mental Health Foundation MHF) which is in dire need of more space and an upgrade of its facilities, MHF announced on Monday in a press statement.

During the tour around the facility given by the executive director of MHF Eileen Healy, the minister personally experienced the foundations most urgent short and long-term needs.

He was able to meet with the staff and witness the variety of ongoing activities. Also, the poor condition of the building, sewerage problems and severe matter of under-capacity were discussed.

The minister showed great interest in the work that is being done by the foundation and expressed his willingness to support MHF in the future, the MHF release concludes.

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30% ruling campaigners switch focus to senate, after parliament says ‘no’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – International workers campaigning to have a full transition period built into government plans to cut the 30% ruling entitlement say they are now focusing on the senate to fight their corner.

The government is planning to cut the number of years workers can claim the tax break from eight to five years. Originally, the government said it would not include a transition period, but tax minister Menno Snel has now agreed to delay making the change for two years after pressure from industry and campaign groups.

However, campaigners argue this does not go far enough, is extremely confusing and that ‘a large majority of users are still losing significant income.’ Last week, an amendment by the Socialist Party and GroenLinks, which would have brought in a transition period for current beneficiaries as well as a salary cap, failed to generate enough support in parliament.

Senate

Jessica Taylor Piotrowski of the campaign group United Expats of the Netherlands told DutchNews the organisation is now pinning its hopes on the senate. ‘Snel said that introducing a salary cap, as proposed by the SP and GroenLinks would damage the business climate,’ she said.

‘But that is just what is happening now with the government breaking its word.’ ‘We are now evaluating what next steps to take,’ she said. ‘Our community is frustrated, and we are discussing with them what to do.’

Different treatment

Legal advice prepared for the campaign group by law firm Stibbe states that the government’s changes violate the principles of legal certainty and proportionality and that the implementation of transition period for some but not everyone means beneficiaries are also being treated differently.

This, Stibbe argues is counter to the legal principles of good governance.

Legal

Campaigners now hope that the senate will take notice of the legal points raised in the Stibbe document. The senate has traditionally acted as a venue to check legislation on its quality rather than its political perspective.

In addition, the UNEL is considering taking legal action against the state, Piotrowski said. ‘We are currently evaluating all options to determine whether legal action in court is a reasonable next step,’ she said.

‘In the coming days, we will continue our ongoing conversations with our legal team as well as with legal advisors to identify what is the most feasible and realistic solution.’ (DutchNews)

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Two arrested after explosive attack on ATM at village bank

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two people have been arrested after an ATM machine was blown up outside a bank in a Zuid-Holland village.

The blast in the early hours of Monday destroyed the cash dispenser at the Rabobank branch on Kennedyplein in Nieuwkoop, leaving banknotes lying in the road, Omroep West reported.

Two suspects were seen fleeing the scene on a scooter. Police used a helicopter equipped with a heat trace to find the scooter, which had been parked inside a delivery van. The two men sitting in the van were arrested.

Local residents were ordered to leave their homes and spent several hours in a sports hall after the explosives disposal service (EOD) found a suspicious device in the bank machine. (DutchNews)

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Man, 26, arrested in quadruple murder investigation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 26-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the mass shooting earlier this week which left four people dead in Enschede, police say.

The man was arrested near Dordrecht on Tuesday evening, a couple of hours after the bodies were found. A second man who was arrested with him has since been released.

The man will appear in court later today for a remand hearing. The four men were found dead in a commercial property in Enschede which, according to chamber of commerce information, was home to a company selling equipment for growing plants on Tuesday afternoon.

All four had been shot dead. It later emerged that two of the victims were being investigated by police in connection with the seizure of 17 kilos of marijuana on the premises this summer.

One of the men, since identified by the AD as 61-year-old Max Klaasse, was sales rep for a plant feed company who was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’, the paper said. (DutchNews)

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Tip-off sparks search for 10 tonnes of illegal fireworks

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police say they have discovered 10,000 kilos of illegal fireworks in a warehouse in Vijfhuizen near Haarlem after an anonymous tip-off. Police searched four homes in Haarlem and arrested four locals between the ages of 25 and 45.

Two trucks were needed to collect the fireworks and move them to safety. The transportation and storage of fireworks is a moot point with police officers because of the dangers involved.

Just this week it emerged that private security guards will help the police keep watch on confiscated fireworks until they can be picked up by specialised transport companies.

In 2017 police tracked down a total of 40,000 kilos of illegal fireworks, ahead of the New Year firework frenzy. The score for this year now stands at 23,874 kilos so far. (DutchNews)

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Two hand grenades made safe outside cafe in central Almere

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Parts of central Almere were sealed off on Thursday morning as police explosives experts made safe two hand grenades which had been left on the Grote Markt.

One handgrenade was found in a ‘suspicious package’ in front of a cafe on the square around 8am. The second grenade was found some 90 minutes later. Firemen and ambulances were also called to the scene, which was monitored by a police helicopter.

The area was reopened to the public around 1.30pm. Hand grenades have been left outside cafes and other shops Amsterdam and Delft in recent weeks in what police say is likely to be a warning in ongoing gangland rivalries. (DutchNews)

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Dutch foundation, not Belgian, sent cash to Germany’s AfD

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A Dutch foundation named Stichting Identiteit Europa is now thought to be one of the foreign charities which sent money to German far-right party AfD, the leader of which is now under investigation for accepting foreign donations.

The Financieele Dagblad said on Thursday that the Dutch foundation, set up by a retired entrepreneur named Floris Berkhout, his wife and brother, had sent the money to the AfD but that is was returned.

‘I made the deposit on behalf of the foundation, but it came back by return post,’ Berkhout told the paper. Berkhout said that the foundation had been established out of ‘idealistic motives’ to have voice, given ‘all the influence from elsewhere’ and ‘uncontrolled immigration’.

German prosecutors said on Wednesday that Alice Weidel, the parliamentary group leader was under suspicion of breaching the country’s tough laws on political spending.

Germany restricts foreign donations from non-European Union countries to German citizens living outside the EU.

According to German media, the AfD says the investigation relates to donations from Switzerland and Belgium, the Belgian donation of €150,000 coming from a foundation named Identiteit Europa.

Dutch link

However, that foundation now transpires to be Dutch, not Belgian. Berkhout told the FD he did not understand the link with Belgium. Rather than by return of post, as Berkhout claims, the AfD says it returned the full amount in May, three months after receiving it.

The Identiteit Europa foundation’s website links to another website named European Identity which is also based in the Netherlands and collates articles about migration issues.

That website states the responsibility for the website is with AMR Consultants, a Rotterdam organisational consultancy run by Charles Berkhout, according to Chamber of Trade documents. (DutchNews)

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Anti Piet campaigners lose case to ban ‘racist characteristics’ from procession

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Anti-Zwarte Piet campaigners have lost their attempt to have ‘all racist characteristics’ removed from the character’s appearance at Saturday’s Sinterklaas parade in Zaandijk, north of Amsterdam.

A group calling itself the Majority Perspective foundation went to court on Tuesday to ask judges to make sure that Piet has no racist characteristics, such as earrings and big red lips, or showed slavish or stupid behaviour.

However, the judge said the foundation, which claims to represent a number of adults and children of African descent, had not had proper talks with Zaandam council, which is organising the procession.

The council has been ‘taken by surprise’ by the foundation’s demands and has had no time to react, the judge said. He also rejected calls to ban the procession being shown live on television.

In his summing up, the judge referred to international criticism of Zwarte Piet, in particular a report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2015.

The UN body then urged the Dutch government to actively work to change the features of Sinterklaas’ helper Zwarte Piet which reflect negative stereotypes.

Targets

The case targeted Zaanstad’s mayor Jan Hamming, the public broadcaster which will show the procession live and the event bureau organising it as well as the Dutch media commission and the Dutch state.

Soot

The campaign to get rid of Piet’s curly hair, red lips and blackface makeup has gathered momentum in recent years and in Amsterdam, for example, Piets with sooty faces will dominate at the city’s own parade on Sunday.

The government has always refused to take a stand, although prime minister Mark Rutte was heavily criticised in 2014 when he said that his friends in the Antilleans (the Dutch former colonies in the Caribbean) ‘are very happy when it is Sinterklaas because they don’t have to paint their faces’.

A poll by television show EenVandaag last year showed that 68% of the population back keeping Zwarte Piet black, while 26% are open to change. In 2013, the traditional version of Sinterklaas’ helper had 89% support.

However, a majority of people under the age of 25 support getting rid of the blackface make-up, the poll last year showed.

Demonstrations

The ‘arrival’ of Sinterklaas on Saturday kicks off three weeks of festivities leading up to December 5. This year the Kick Out Zwarte Piet campaign has said it will not demonstrate in Zaandijk during the opening event.

Instead, the organisation has applied for licences to hold demonstrations at 18 other locations including Dokkum, which it was unable to reach last year because of the motorway blockade.

Last week 34 campaigners who blocked the A7 motorway with cars to stop anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators reaching Dokkum were sentenced to community service of between 80 and 240 hours and suspended jail terms of one month. (DutchNews)

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Four men found dead in possible drugs-related killing

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Four men have been found dead in a commercial property in Enschede which, according to chamber of commerce information, was home to a company selling equipment for growing marijuana.

Police said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon that the four men had been shot dead. Two men, aged 27 and 34, came from Hengelo, the third victim was a 62-year-old man from Arnhem and the fourth, a local man aged 43.

The killing is thought to have taken place on Monday night. Locals report hearing loud bangs and a car driving away at high speed, local broadcaster RTV Oost reported. The alarm was sounded on Tuesday afternoon after the bodies were discovered.

The area has been sealed off and police worked at the location through the night, the broadcaster said. RTV Oost also said that police had seized 15 to 20 kilos of marijuana from the premises earlier this summer.

Police said later on Wednesday that two of the men who had been killed had been charged in connection with that drugs haul. Mass gang-related killings are extremely rare in the Netherlands, the AD reported. The last time four people were shot dead in a gangland murder was in 1998, but two of the victims then were passers-by, the AD said. (DutchNews)

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