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Organic food is getting cheaper, sometimes beats A brands

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Organic food has gone down in price compared with ordinary foodstuffs and in some cases may be cheaper than A brands, according to new research by the consumers organisation Consumentenbond. 

The research will be published on Tuesday and is previewed in Monday’s AD. The researchers compared 115 different products bought in 13 supermarkets and four organic food shops all over the country. 

They found supermarket group Dirk is cheapest when it comes to organic food, with prices 13% below the average. Prices in specialist organic shops were between 15% and 28% higher than average, the AD said. 

However, five years ago, organic products were on average twice as expensive as non-organic food, and the difference has now slipped to 63%. 

And in some cases, supermarket organic food is cheaper than branded products – for example, Albert Heijn’s own brand organic orange juice and milk. 

Dutch consumers spent €1.5bn on organic food in 2017, with spending on eggs and dairy products increasing most, according to figures from sector organisation Bionext. (DutchNews)

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10 storms forecasts for 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Possible first storm in May

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – Crown Weather on Sunday issued a preliminary forecast for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season which is a little over two-months away from the official June 1ststart of the season. 

Crown Weather forecast up to 10-named storms; six of those are expected to become a hurricane; and three of those are expected to become major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Crown Weather feels that we are in for a “slightly below average season” with storm activity occurring in three areas off the continental United States: the first area is in the vicinity of the Carolinas; the second area is in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas; and the third area, also in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana.  

Crown Weather: “Activity during the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely to be influenced by building El Nino conditions. This potentially means a lower than average number of storms, HOWEVER, this does not necessarily mean that the threat for a tropical storm or hurricane impact is lower as there is data supporting the idea of at least one landfall of a tropical storm/hurricane on the US coast and/or eastern Caribbean this season. In addition, I am expecting the formation of at least one tropical storm in the western Atlantic during either May or early June. In addition, I also think that we could start out “quick” with tropical storm/hurricane formation from May to August, but then slow down in activity during September with the hurricane season potentially ending early in October as El Nino strengthens and attempts to make the Atlantic increasingly more unfavorable for development.”

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY WEATHER WATCH

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Justice Minister De Weever: Remember Slavery – The Power of the Arts for Justice

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, described as one of the darkest chapters in human history 

Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever on Sunday pointed out that Monday, March 25, is International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade under the theme, “Remember Slavery: The Power of the Arts for Justice.”

The United Nations (UN) says this day offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system.  The international day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

The 2019 theme according to the ‘Remember Slavery’ UN site,“Since the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the arts have been used to confront slavery, empower enslaved communities and honour those who made freedom possible. 

“They have also been vital tools in commemorating past struggles, highlighting ongoing injustices and celebrating the achievements of people of African descent. The 2019 theme therefore draws attention to the many examples of artistic expression – including memorials, music, dance and architecture – that have helped us to remember the history and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.”

“On March 25, let us as a nation commemorate this day, by reflecting on what transpired four centuries ago.  Take time out, as a people to reflect on the pivotal role that our island played during those tomes and the struggles of our forefathers went through.

“We are also living in the International Decade for people of African descent 2015-2024. It is a decade dedicated to the people, recognizing people of African descent whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

“According to the UN, around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas which also includes the Caribbean.  Many more millions live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent.

“We must never forget the crimes and impacts across the centuries as a result of slavery. We pay homage to our forefathers who were denied their humanity, and we must ensure that the ugly face of racism today does not creep into our multi-cultural society. 

“We live in a community that is based on the rule of law equal to all.  We take off our hats to those who have made a difference in our national development as we continue to build country Sint Maarten together with equal opportunities for all,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday.

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Le Grand Voyages wins Present Your Startup Caribbean 2019

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Entrepreneur Cristal Legrand from St. Maarten of Le Grand Voyages is announced winner of the finals of Present Your Startup Caribbean 2019 during the 3rdedition of the startup pitch competition on Curacao. 

The finals took place during the closing session of The Road to GES2019 Caribbean, a pre event of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that takes place in the Netherlands in June.

During the finals, the startups Gridspan Energy, INFORMAMI, Seam Social Labs, CaribAlgea and Le Grand Voyages pitched their ideas to an audience of government officials, investors, experts and entrepreneurs.

In her 3-minute pitch, Cristal presented her multi-destination management and marketing company, whose goal is to create economic impact through regional integration. Her presentation focused on the exclusivity of the “SSSAS” region's multicultural travel experience, with its Dutch, French and British influences accented with Caribbean flair. 

Branded as, “The SSSAS Experience”, the islands within this initial integration are St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla and St. Barths.

Cristal wins a trip to the GES2019 and a trip to Miami during the takeover of Curacao at Venture Cafe. Alec Macklis of Gridspan Energy from the United States ended second and also wins a trip to Miami. 

Present Your Startup is a yearly accelerator and startup competition that connects startups to investors and experts. Shortlisted startups follow a program of multiple training days, which is followed by a pitch competition. Throughout the whole program, the participants get to know investors, other businesses and potential customers of the Present Your Startup network.

Cristal would like to thank Baker’s Suites and Alicia’s Inn for their support in helping her to attend this event. As well as her leader, Ambassador Alicia Jobity - Liverpool, family and friends for their continued support. She looks forward to competing again in Miami and in the Netherlands, as she continues to develop her business and work towards it’s official launch in June 2019.

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XTRATIGHT ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES $35 HIT MAKER FLASH SALE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Xtratight Entertainment, the promoter behind the highly acclaimed Telcell Night of the Hit Makers, was totally blown away by the overwhelming response they received for their Early Bird Special. Anticipating high demand, the promoters tripled the amount of Early Bird tickets that were printed and yet many fans were disappointed as the tickets sold out before the expiration date.

As a fan driven organization, Xtratight Entertainment immediately responded by meeting with the sponsors to see what could be done. As a result this Saturday fans will have the opportunity to take advantage of an exclusive and highly limited $35 Hit Maker Flash Sale.

Fans are urged to head to Telem Pond Island this Saturday where the Flash Sale will start promptly at 10AM and last for 50 minutes only. Hit Maker tickets will be available for just $35 and sales will be restricted to max. 3 tickets per person so that everyone can get a fair chance as the tickets are extremely limited.

Bertaux ‘Rude’ Fleming of Xtratight Entertainment said:” Carnival 50 is a major celebration and we want everyone to be able to partake. We have the best fans in the world and they know with us to always expect unexpected things.” 

Telcell Night of the Hit Makers will make history on April 26th at Festival Village and will feature Youth Waves, Buleria, Edwin Yearwood & Krosfyah, and KASSAV.

Regular tickets remain available for $40 at Telem (Pond Island and Simpson Bay), Adolphus Richardson, Van Dorp (both locations), Oasis Food, SOS Radio and Levi’s Boutique in Marigot.

Telcell’s Night of the Hitmakers is brought to you by TelCell, Heineken, Johnnie Walker Black, SOS Radio, Simpson Bay Resorts, Kooyman, Genesis Music Group and XtraTight Entertainment.

For more information be sure to check out XtraTight Entertainment’s Facebook page or call 522 9872.

Jus say AI!

Xtratight Entertainment is a production company focused on delivering high quality service and dependability within the entertainment sector. Their aim is to create innovative and memorable experiences for a multi-demographic audience.

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Utrecht shooter had terrorist intent, but personal issues may be a factor: OM

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man arrested in connection with Monday’s tram shooting in Utrecht which left three people dead is under investigation for murder and attempted murder with terrorist intent, the public prosecution department said on Thursday. 

Gökmen Tanis, 37, was arrested in the evening of the attack and will appear in court on Friday for a remand hearing. The investigation is still underway, and no relationship has yet been established between the suspect and the victims, the public prosecution department confirmed. 

Nor is there any evidence that Tanis had help from anyone else. The investigation is ‘looking into whether the suspect acted from a terrorist motive alone or whether his actions stemmed from personal problems combined with radicalized thoughts,’ the statement said. 

Tanis has a history of petty crime and had been released from jail on license pending a trial for rape less than three weeks before the shooting. The second person who remains in custody in connection with the attack may have had a supporting role, rather than links with the actual shooting, the department said. (DutchNews)

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Far-right nationalist Forum will be biggest in Dutch senate with 13 seats

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Thierry Baudet’s right-wing nationalist Forum voor Democratie has emerged as the big winner in the provincial elections and will take 13 seats in the 75 seat senate in May. 

The four coalition parties have lost their majority and will control 31 of the senate seats, forcing them to turn to opposition parties for support to get controversial legislation through. 

Prime minister Mark Rutte, in Brussels to discuss Brexit, told reporters that he would work to come to a ‘sensible majority’ in the upper house. Rutte said he would not try to come up with a pact, nor would he rule out any party, whether more left or right-wing than the coalition. 

Has Baudet really changed the political landscape? 

Baudet, who before the elections said that the government would have to drop its climate plans to get his support, told voters in a Twitter message that the party does ‘feel a responsiblity to ensure real political change, not just in the provinces but also in the senate’. 

Nevertheless, he told reporters later, ‘we want to see a change of course from the government.’ GroenLinks, which now has nine seats in the senate after adding five to its total, would also be in a position to ensure a government majority, as would the Labour party which has seven. 

Amsterdam, Utrecht don’t fall for Forum 

Meanwhile Forum campaigned in the provinces on national issues and now faces the problem of making sure it fills the seats it has won on the 12 provincial councils. 

As the biggest party in both Zuid-Holland and Flevoland, Forum will be charged with putting together a working coalition in the regions, and Baudet said on Thursday he has already approached former VVD senator Hans Wiegel to work on his behalf in Rotterdam. 

Big losers of the night were Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV which is on target to lose four of its nine senate seats, and the Socialists which will sink from nine to four. Wilders, whose support has been declining for years and has fallen 40% in the provinces, described his party’s losses as ‘limited’. 

‘Six seats is not nothing,’ he said, adding that that the ‘unique PVV voice’ will continue to heard in the senate. Turnout was up sharply on the last provincial vote, with some 56% of people casting their vote. 

It was highest (60%) in Zeeland and Utrecht. Preliminary results VVD from 13 to 12 seats Forum voor Democratie from 0 to 13 seats CDA from 12 to 9 seats GroenLinks from 4 to 9 seats PvdA from 8 to 7 seats D66 from 10 to 6 seats PVV from 9 to 5 seats ChristenUnie from 3 to 4 seats SP from 9 to 4 seats Partij voor de Dieren from 2 to 3 seats 50PLUS unchanged at 2 SGP from 2 to 1 DENK none OSF (independent, local parties) none. 

Check out the results in your area on the NOS interactive map. (DutchNews)

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Nature Foundation Researches the Immense Impact of Coral Disease on Reefs

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation has been monitoring the impact of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease on St Maarten coral reefs since it was first discovered in October 2018. Recently a more elaborate research from the Nature Foundation established on average a 60% infection and mortality rate of the most susceptible stony corals in the Marine Park ‘Man of War Shoal’. On coral reefs outside the Marine Protected Area, an even higher average is found; at least 70% of the affect corals species are either diseased or dead. 

The Nature Foundation used the Roving Diver methodology I order to establish the impact of the Tissue Loss disease on our coral reefs. During the research scientific divers conduct a swim around the site, focusing on species that are primarily impacted by the disease outbreak, and all stony coral species and their level of disease impact are being recorded. This research provides insight in the order in which species are affected, the rate of spread of the disease and the frequency across different coral reef site.

“We found a 90% infection and mortality rate on one site outside the marine protected area, indicating that our coral reefs are dying as researchers did not observe any recovery from this disease yet. It is time to panic about the health of our reefs, as coral reefs are of great importance to our tourist industry, the health of our fish stocks, clarity of our waters and the protection from storms. There is some hope left, as we found greater resilience on our most famous dive site ‘Proselyte Reef’, ‘only’ less than 50% of the corals were diseased or dead on this site. The results of the coral disease research also shows the significance of protecting our reefs, as corals in the Marine Protected Area had lower mortality and infection rates compared to corals outside the protected area, indicating their higher resilience” explained Nature Foundation’s Projects and Research Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern. 

The entire country benefits from an increase in Marine Protected Areas, as it creates more resilient reefs and corals, protecting our tourist industry and protecting us from disaster events, such as Hurricane Irma. Coral reefs provide more than fifty million dollars in goods and services to our economy annually, tourist come to our island to enjoy our beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Besides, healthy fish stocks depend on the health of our corals and vice versa, most of the fishes we consume can call coral reefs their homes. 

“The disease has been moving very fast on our coral reefs, affecting many corals in a short time period. Our coral reefs were already highly threatened due to pollution, nutrient input, hurricane Irma and rising ocean temperatures.  Especially pollution and even plastic presence can easily decrease the resilience of our corals, the fast rate of this disease shows that our corals are more susceptible. Therefore, it is of high importance to keep our waters clean, ban single-use plastics and prioritize to obstruct further sewage and pollution run-off in our waters” continued Meijer zu Schlochtern.

The ‘Stony Coral Tissue Loss’ disease is a relatively new issue that has been plaguing coral reefs in the Atlantic Basin for the last few months. The coral reef disease manifests itself through the creation of white blotches on stony coral, eventually leading to the loss of tissue and eventual death in the coral colony. The disease affects 20 different coral species is able to kill colonies within several weeks or months. Unfortunately the spread and lethality of the disease is being facilitated by poor water quality at several locations surrounding the island.

The Nature Foundations recommends all divers and dive schools to be vigilant to not spread the disease. The disease appears to be water borne and may potentially be spread by divers their gear according the Florida Disease Advisory Committee. They advise scuba divers in the Caribbean and Florida to soak their gear in a 5% chlorine bleach solution for 30 minutes, and rinse well after, especially when moving in between locations. Nature Foundation also advises all divers to be aware of their fins and to not touch any diseased or healthy coral; as you will probably transmit the disease to other corals!

nature fd thur2103 ins1

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Continuation Central Committee meeting of Parliament about Draft Budget 2019

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on March 21. 

The Central Committee meeting which was adjourned on Wednesday March 20, 2019 will be reconvened on Thursday, at 2.00PMin the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. 

The agenda point is: Draft National Ordinance Establishing the Budget of Sint Maarten for the 2019 service year (National Ordinance Budget 2019) (Parliamentary Year 2018-2019-126) (IS/666/2018-2019 dated March 4, 2019).

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.  

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115 (after 7.00pm on Channel 120), via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.sxmparliament.orgwww.pearlfmradio.sx  and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Low key campaign resumes ahead of Wednesday provincial vote

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Political parties resumed campaigning for Wednesday’s provincial elections on Tuesday morning, after all but Forum voor Democratie called a halt in the wake of the Utrecht shootings. 

After a meeting on Tuesday morning, campaign leaders said that their supporters would be back on the streets but that the approach would be more low-key ahead of tomorrow’s vote, the AD reported. 

It is still unclear if tonight’s scheduled television debate between the main party leaders will take place, or whether priority will be given to a debate on the Utrecht shooting in parliament, the AD said. 

FvD pressed ahead with its supporters’ meeting in Scheveningen on Monday evening and party leader Thierry Baudet used the event to draw a link between the shooting, immigration and the policies of the main conservative parties VVD and CDA. 

Asked afterwards if he was capitalising on the murders, Baudet said ‘he did not recognise himself’ in the claim. Capitalising However, RTL political commentator Frits Wester described Baudet’s performance as low. 

‘If you want to go ahead with a meeting and talk about what has happened with your supporters, I can understand that,’ he said on a television talk show. ‘But to use such an event, whether terrorism or relationship-related, to make a political point, is extremely low.’ 

FvD is set to do well in the provincial vote, the results of which will be used to determine the political make-up of the upper house of parliament. Some polls indicate the anti-immigration and anti-EU FvD could emerge as the second biggest senate party behind the VVD.  (DutchNews)

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