Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1062)

Rotterdam populists want to stop streets becoming ‘un Dutch’, ban foreign shops

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Populist Party Leefbaar Rotterdam, which forms part of the current city government, wants to bring in new legislation to stop streets becoming ‘un Dutch’.

This would mean allowing officials to stop halal butchers, phone shops and other outlets identified as ‘foreign’ from opening if that threatened the character of the street.

Campaign leader Joost Eerdmans says he has the support of a majority of Rotterdammers. A poll by Maurice de Hond carried out on behalf of his party found 96% of PVV voters, 90% of Leefbaar voters and 86% of VVD voters would back such a ban.

In an interview with the Volkskrant on Thursday, Eerdmans said that he considers the local elections to be a referendum: ‘Are we for freedom, tolerance and progress or are we keeping half an eye on Istanbul or Mecca,’ he said. (DutchNews)


One in five have trouble sleeping, women have more problems than men

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – One in five people in the Netherlands have trouble sleeping and women are more likely to have problems than men, according to research by national statistics agency CBS to coincide with World Sleep Day.

People on low incomes are also more likely to sleep badly, as are older people. And four in 10 say their sleeping problems means they work less efficiently and have bad moods.

While just 8% of 12 to 16-year-olds complain about not sleeping well, that rises to 28% among the over-75s. Older women are the least likely to sleep well.

Almost one third of women aged 55 to 65 report sleep problems, compared with one in five men of the same age.


Research by Erasmus University last year said older women are more than twice as likely as men to take medication to help them sleep.   Women are more likely to have trouble falling asleep than men, they wake up more often and use more drugs.

For example, 17.% of women over the age of 65 take medicine to help them sleep, compared with 6.1% of men.

Although 90% of the Dutch do sleep enough ‘that does not mean we all sleep well,’ Eus van Someren of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience told broadcaster NOS last year.

‘We have trouble falling asleep, use drugs and have difficulty waking up. We really have to tackle this.’ (DutchNews)


MAC Students tour the Government Administration Building

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday morning students of the Methodist Agogic Centre (MAC) primary school visited the Government Administration Building and they were given a tour of the facility.

The students were given general information about the functioning of Government. They were able to visit the different Ministries and Departments that are occupying and functioning in the Government Administration Building.

A highlight of the students visit was the opportunity to interact the Council of Ministers in their respective offices. Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin greeted the students and spoke briefly with them before their departure.

Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport Jorien Wuite and Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin joined the students at the front of the Government Administration Building to take a group photo.

mac group


Minister Gitterson of VROMI says hurricane metal debris to be shipped off island

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Miklos Gitterson informed the media that efforts are underway at the hurricane landfill on Pond Island to process metal debris such as zink and other metal items via shredding or crushing.

The process underway will facilitate the shipment of the aforementioned to another country.

A fire started at the hurricane landfill earlier in the week, but was suppressed quickly by the Fire Department. The aforementioned is taking preventive measures by wetting the area in order to prevent further flare-ups at this particular dump site.


MHF creates awareness about suicide through the arts as its SXM DOET project

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Friday 9th, The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) participated in SXM DOET by holding an art workshop, Love & Semicolon, to raise awareness for suicide through the arts.

Magueda Jackson, a local artist, created a piece to represent the meaning of the semicolon – “When it comes to grammar, the semicolon is often used when the author could’ve ended the sentence but chose not to,” says Doctor Naeem Juliana as he gave the introduction.

However in the case of suicide, it used for survivors who chose to keep living. “You are the author, and the sentence is your life,” she says. During the session, the clients, volunteers, and staff recreated the Jackson’s piece while still making it their own.

The next day, MHF had two more projects take place – “Beautifying MHF” where everyone repainted the building and created a mural in front of Faraja. The design was taken from one of the client’s drawings and recreated by Carina Alcin and Evita, two local artists of St. Maarten.

The other was project that took place was the “Green Thumbs Project” – people got together to place trees, plants, and seeds into the ground – creating a garden for the Faraja clients to admire, take care of, and benefit from.

Although SXM DOET was only two days, it didn’t stop there for MHF. On Tuesday, thanks to SharLisa Dominguez Peterson, a producer in the Caribbean entertainment industry and diaspora, students from Howard University (in Washington DC) who had given up their spring break to do some volunteer work, came and repainted the inside of the MHF building.

The Mental Health Foundation says that they are very thankful to all the volunteers who took time out of their schedule to assist, to those who donated seeds and plants, and to the students who gave up their spring break to help those who are in need. They also send a special thanks to SXM DOET and Oranje Funds for making these activities possible by providing the funds.

CUTLINE: Magueda Jackson, a local artist.

mhf wed mar14 painter artist inside1

mhf wedmar14 painting inside2


From St. Martin to Cancún: Tourism poetry of Lasana Sekou under critical microscope in Mexico

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Literary critic David Anuar has placed Lasana Sekou’s poetry about tourism under a microscope in the new edition of the Mexican cultural journal, Tropo a la uña, a said Jacqueline Sample of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). 

“Lasana Sekou: turismo e inautenticidad del ser,” roughly translated as “Lasana Sekou: tourism and inauthenticity of being,” is the title of Anuar’s five-page scholarly treatment of Sekou’s poems about tourism in St. Martin from his books published by HNP, Born Here (1986) and The Salt Reaper (2004, 2005) 

“Of particular interest to me, as a poet, writer and literary critic born in Cancún, a city valued for its tourism, has been reading the poems in which Sekou addresses the neocolonial dependence generated by the economic dynamism of tourism,” wrote Anuar.

Anuar’s critical review is in Spanish. The poems he wrote about are also collected in Pelican Heart (2010), the bilingual anthology of Sekou’s work edited by the erudite Cuban literary historian Emilio Jorge Rodriguez, said Sample.

“These poems present a lyrical voice that testifies to the other side of the tourism coin, that is, they do not give a subaltern look, because they do not place us in the tourist’s vision, but rather they position themselves in the place of the locals, and like these they react in their daily life to tourism as a social phenomenon that reproduces neocolonial relations of dominance,” wrote Anuar.

Anuar cites other Caribbean and Latin American authors in his discussion as well. He argues that Sekou is positing that the Caribbean people have the possibility to look for (to realize) their authentic existence rather than a mimic one or one of any imperialistic configuration (, p. 36).

Anuar’s take on Sekou’s poetry makes St. Martin known at different levels in different worlds. It allows more people to also see that tourism, literary authenticity, and the fight for cultural originality or identity in St. Martin and in a major world tourism center like Cancún, Mexico, can be evaluated, even compared critically in socio-economic ways, said Sample.

In fact, Anuar concludes his paper with what is arguably a startling comparison between the Caribbean island and his Mexican city: “And this is the great paradox that, a (like) society that lives on tourism, also beats in our blood: what feeds me, denies me.”


Lobby group calls for action on polluting wood-burning stoves

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government should discourage the use of wood-burning stoves in the Netherlands because of the impact on health and air quality, a group made up of local councils, research institutes and local health councils said on Tuesday.

The wood smoke and health platform has been researching the effect of stoves for the past 2.5 years and says action is needed to reduce the impact. ‘Over 10% of the population consider wood smoke to be a problem,’ chairman Job Cohen said.

‘In particular, it can be a major issue for people with asthma. They did not ask to live next door to people who use wood-burning stoves for heating. The use of wood-burning stoves is not currently regulated in the Netherlands and has been encouraged as an alternative energy source now gas is being phased out.

In addition, they are cheaper to run than traditional gas boilers which are subject to high energy taxes. The government also subsidises the installation of wood pellet and biomass stoves for heating.

The platform says the government should draw up legal guidelines for the use of wood-burning stoves so that action can be taken if they become an unacceptable nuisance. However, some organisations, such as environmental group Milieudefensie and Amsterdam city council want a total ban, broadcaster RTL said. (DutchNews)


Academic independence needs to be safeguarded: report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Research conducted by universities is increasingly compromised by the companies or the organisations who commission it, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has said in an advisory report out on Tuesday.

Although the academy has not found ‘any signs of structural self-censorship or lack of diversity of perspective’, the government and politicians have to remain ‘alert’ to the danger of socially relevant research curtailing academic freedom and ‘undesirable influence from a financier on methods, interpretation and publication of results’, the KNAW writes.

The report comes in the wake of concerns raised last year by the then VVD MP Pieter Duisenberg which centred on possible self-censorship and left-leaning political bias at Dutch universities.

Nico Schrijver, the chairman of the KNAW committee responsible for the findings says there is cause for concern. ‘Research policy is being forced in a certain direction. Universities have less financial room for independent research,’ he told the NRC.

But the accusation of political left-wing bias he dismissed as ‘irrelevant’. ‘You can’t really say such and such a university is a left-wing bastion. Both left and right are represented.

There are many left-wingers among political scientists but equally the business economy department will have few GroenLinks voters,’ the paper quotes him as saying. ‘We don’t need to know as long as everyone abides by the scientific rules.’

Corporate cash

KNAW says money provided by companies is a greater threat to scientific independence than a lack of diversity of perspective, which Schrijver said is also determined by the ‘spirit of the times’.

Among the examples cited by the NRC of  ‘a tenuous relationship with scientific freedom’ is a report by the Rotterdam School of Management called Wederzijds Profijt (Mutual profit) paid for by Shell, AkzoNobel, DSM, Philips and Unilever which recommended lower costs for big corporations.

The report played a part in bringing about a controversial measure which gave corporations a tax break for innovation. The names of the sponsors did not appear in the report, the NRC said. (DutchNews)


Council of Ministers approves VNG recovery project

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Council of Ministers approved the proposal for the recovery project of VNG International, who presented the scope of their project and its activities to the ministers.

The International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International) will support the Government of St Maarten in both strengthening its disaster preparedness to anticipate, adapt, provide safety and response in future disasters, as well as the process of building back better to mitigate future disaster risk.  

The implementation phase starts at the end of March and the entire project comes to an end mid-2020. The themes for support have been identified jointly by the Government of St Maarten and VNG International over the past months.

For the coming months, and prior to the start of the next hurricane season, the following activities have been prioritized by the Government of St Maarten in the framework of the VNG project:

  1. the development of disaster management manuals on various themes;
  2. the organization of trainings and exercises, in close consultation with all stakeholders involved;
  3. the revision of the building norms, in order to foster both disaster resistant and sustainable building practice.

Dutch municipalities, international and local experts will implement policies, procedures, and activities to mitigate disaster areas.

For the longer term, the Government of St Maarten and VNG International will work on a revision of the current disaster management structure, and improved access to information for disaster management. Specific attention will be paid to the psychological preparedness of the emergency services and the citizens of St. Maarten.

Finally, there will be attention in the project for a more effective and more efficient implementation of the reconstruction programs, by improving project management skills. While the main focus will be on St Maarten. Some activities will also be implemented to support Saba and St Eustatius.

Following the Hurricane that struck St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius on September 6 2017, Dutch municipalities contacted VNG to define a common response to support the islands within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. VNG called upon its members to donate to the fundraising campaign of the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC). 50% of the funds donated by Dutch municipalities will be available for recovery support activities to be developed and implemented by VNG International.


‘Schiphol should consider offshore runway option’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A proposal to create a seventh runway for Schiphol airport offshore has been revived by a group of business interests and residents living near Amsterdam’s airport, the Telegraaf said on Monday.

Proponents of the plan claim an offshore runway – with a quick light rail connection to the main terminal – is the only means to expand the Dutch airport, the third-largest in Europe.

There are strong objections to the expansion of the present airport because of noise pollution. The plan’s supporters say one or more runways could be built in the North Sea off the coast of IJmuiden and the two noisier runways at the airport could be closed down.

‘Air traffic will continue to grow. A ban on further growth of Schiphol is not realistic because of the airport’s great economic significance to the Dutch economy,’ said researcher Eef Haverkort of the Schiphol area residents group.

Under present agreements, Schiphol has effectively reached its capacity limits until 2020 when new arrangements must be put into force. Moreover, there are delays in the reconstruction of Schiphol’s ‘relief’ airport Lelystad.

A ‘dependence’ at sea seems to be the only option, the plan suggests. The local business community backs the plan. Hans Bakker, chairman of the VNO-NCW Metropool Amsterdam employers association said the plan was ‘sympathetic’.

‘We’ll seriously look at it, despite the uncertainties. Aircraft will continue to fly over land.’ Extra capacity at Rotterdam, Eindhoven and eventually Lelystad airports is not seen as a solution.

Peter Berdowski of dredging and construction group Boskalis said the Netherlands already has the expertise to build offshore runways. The airport now has a cap of 500,000 landings and takeoffs a year.

Some interests say airport movements could safely be brought up to 650,000 a year, but an advisory group said the real limit of Schiphol will be 30,000 extra aircraft movements a year. (DutchNews)

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio