Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1062)

Library closes off two successful summer camps

PHILIPSBURGDuring the month of July, the library was home to a summer camp program for children and one for teenagers. Throughout the month the children took part in a reading program, as well as a great number of activities.

This year the library’s teen summer camp had such activities as: poetry evenings, a game night, computer classes, reading books and watching movies. There were also sporting activities, such as Zumba classes and a hike.

The summer program for the younger children had the following activities: storytelling, making clay animations in the Media Lab, getting educated about healthy eating in nutrition class, arts and crafts, music class, reading with a buddy and a spelling bee.

The program coordinators Maryland Powell and Melackia Spencer were very happy about how the summer program went and felt that it was a great success. They also look forward to hosting the same program next year again in the library.

The library would like to thank the children who took part in the wonderful and educational programs.



PHILIPSBURG - The Police Department released the following schedule with respect to the funeral preparations for the late Gamali Kwasi Benjamin, where the general public has been invited.

Date: Thursday August 13th 2015

Place: Methodist Chapel on Front Street, Philipsburg

Viewing time: 12.00 p.m. to 01.45 p.m.

Minister : Rev. Liana Richardson-Woods

10:30  The body of the late Gamali Benjamin will depart the Royal Funeral Home to the Philipsburg Police Station.

10:45  A Brief Ceremony at the Philipsburg Police Station while Uniform department stand in front of the Police Station

10:55  Procession of Uniform departments will leave the Police Station and head to the Front Street where the it will stop for a brief moment in front of Oro Diamante.

11:30  Procession arrives at the Philipsburg Methodist Church.

12:00  Official part of the ceremony starts at the church.

On behalf of the Chief of Police, Chief Inspector R.V. Henson


International Youth Day: Youth and Civic Engagement

PHILIPSBURG - As young people of a small nation, it is good for us to act out civic responsibilities. What does that mean?  Civic Engagement is how a person participates in the life of the community. This encompasses a knowledge of certain activities, events and updating stories from a political stand point and also from the community.

Our generation of young Sint Maarteners are living in what I call a bitter-sweet era. We are currently trying to find our identity as a people, while also learning new things about our historical culture. We are trying to put Sint Maarten on the map through the use of our talents and skills while trying to cater to our only source of income, Tourism.

Since we are living in such a bitter-sweet era, we as young people must make ourselves fully aware of what is happening in our small island. With us being aware, we can stand up, debate and question our rights. Being aware of the good and the bad in our community is also extra important. These observations can help us to make more informed decisions when it comes to Election Day or even joining a certain organization in the community.

As we mark International Youth Day, I encourage you: don’t be afraid to spend your change on a newspaper and being ridiculed and teased about it. Educate yourself about what is happening on your island and in the surrounding countries. Pick up a book at the Library about your history, learn your constitution, and know your rights.

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”

    -William Shakespeare

By Youth Member of Parliament Kamilah Gumbs

Happy International Youth Day!


Condolence Registry Opened at Police Headquarters for Officer Benjamin

PHILIPSBURG - On Monday August 10th the Sint Maarten Police Department organized a space for a condolences book at the Philipsburg Police Headquarters for those persons who want to sign this book expressing their condolences to the family and friends of the late Police Officer Gamali "Benji" Benjamin.

This space is located in the lobby at the main entrance of the police station. It is open to the general public. (Police Force Sint Maarten)


Officer Gamali Benjamin who fought valiantly unto the end to protect his nation and people

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - On behalf of my husband, Roy Cotton Jr., the board members and volunteers of Victorious Living Foundation, my heart-felt love and compassion go out to the family, friends, colleagues, well wishers and admirers of Officer Gamali Benjamin who fought valiantly unto the end to protect his nation and people. May the spirit of his courage and bravery live on in each of us to bring healing, deliverance, restoration, order and peace to this beautiful land of salt, Soualiga.

Today is a day that requires much soul searching, reflection and concern for the state of our nation, however. For if truth be told, if the majority of our leaders in every sphere of this nation led with vision, compassion and the best interest for all persons, perhaps we would not be in mourning today for our brave Officer Benjamin.

When our Government, the Church, business leaders, and families put our priorities in the right place, we will begin to lead with the right motives. When we begin to seek God's face for guidance and wisdom and allow ourselves to be used as instruments of His peace, then we will have a truly vibrant and excellent nation where everyone contributes to this beautiful isle's development and no one is left behind.

When I consider the past thirteen years of my life in which I have been crying out sometimes feeling like a lone voice in the wilderness, for us to invest in preventative programs to safeguard the future of our youth from the criminal elements, I have to shake my head, knowing that we have wasted so much time as a nation by not putting our priorities in order. Instead of investing in the most precious resource that we have, our children, youth and people, we have chosen instead to invest in buildings and structures, which have no soul and can only be significant by the people who occupy them.

When I consider the fact that I have literally cried on the radio and TV to our elected officials and citizens of this nation to invest in mentoring our youth so that we would not cultivate a nation of criminals, and often being laughed at and taken for granted, then indeed it is time for us to make some radical changes here on beautiful St. Martin.

Officer Benjamin's death, allegedly by a 17-20 year old speaks volumes. It speaks to the neglect of a generation of young people whose parents, Government and society have marginalized and neglected to equip them to be contributing citizens of our society. A growing element of youth, though still in the minority, are negatively impacting our economy and our quality of life, and should be taken seriously. If these issues were addressed with urgency fifteen, twenty years ago, we would not be at this place today. However, it is not too late for change. It is up to you and me; young and old, to be part of that change.

When In 2012 Victorious Living Foundation sought the support of Government, funding agencies and the business sector to continue our then, ten year old mentorship program, Family & Friends Network™, which helped to turn around the lives of youth who were incarcerated for crime; or help prevent others from going into crime or dropping out of school, we were told that no finances were available for such. Consequently, we had to drastically down-size this successful program which provided training for caring adults who volunteered to be mentors, mentorship for our youth, parental support and training, social and life empowerment skills for our youth, tutoring and home work assistance.

Yet, when crises hit, and many of our youth fall prey to negative influences there is always a public outcry. When there needs to be an outcry for us to put a proper infrastructure in place on this 37 sq miles island, very few people stand in solidarity to protect our children who ultimately will determine the strength and vitality of this nation.

I make an appeal to all of us not to let Officer Benjamin's bravery and death be in vain. May his death be like a seed, which when buried germinates and bears many fruit. St. Martin, Soualiga, it's time for us to be the salt of the earth that God created us to be. It's time for change!!

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of this young man who perpetrated this crime, it's time to turn him in. When he's apprehended however, let us put the infrastructure in place to rehabilitate him and many others like him who are out there; who have allowed themselves to become victims of a very vicious and diabolical system.

Yes, it's time for change!!! Let us start by being the change. Officer Benjamin, we salute you. We salute your courage, strength and willingness to place yourself in harm's way so that we the citizens of St. Martin may be protected.

We salute all officers who daily put themselves in danger to protect us. I ask each of you, to allow God's Holy Spirit of peace and love to reign in your hearts. I ask each officer to do your part to transform the police culture so that the general public may be willing to trust you and confide in you when a crime is committed and know that their identity will not be disclosed.

Citizens of St. Martin, South and North, we have the capacity to turn this island around. We have what it takes to become a thriving nation with equal opportunities for all. Let us do it for Officer Benji that his life would not be in vain. Let us make that change for our children and our children's children, and ourselves. May God's grace, peace and wisdom be with all of us.


Dr. N. Erna Mae Francis-Cotton​

Visionary & President, Victorious Living Foundation

(COMMENTARY – The views expressed here in this commentary are the sole responsibility of the author.)


World food prices hit lowest level in almost six years, UN agency reports

SINT MAARTEN – Prices for global agricultural products in July hit their lowest level since September 2009, as sharp drops in the prices of dairy products and vegetable oils more than offset some increases for those of sugar and cereals, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed today.

According to the UN agency'smonthly Food Price Index, meat prices remained stable. An increase in international prices of bovine meat offset a decline for pig meat and ovine meat, while prices for poultry remained stable.

The trade-weighted index tracks prices on international markets of five major food commodity groups: cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar.

In July, says FAO, the dairy price index dropped 7.2 percent from the previous month, mainly due to lower import demand from China, the Middle East and North Africa amid abundant EU milk production which has resulted in good availability of dairy products for export.

As for the July vegetable oil price index, it was some 5.5 percent below its June level, reaching its lowest value since July 2009.

The recent slide was primarily caused by a fall in international palm oil prices due to increased production in Southeast Asia combined with slower exports especially from Malaysia. Another reason is a further weakening of soy oil prices on ample supplies for export in South America and a favourable outlook for global supply in 2015/16.

The cereal price index rose by 2.0 percent from June, but was still 10.1 percent below July last year's level. For the second consecutive month, higher wheat and maize prices, in part due to unfavourable weather in North America and Europe, kept the cereal index rising, but rice prices continued to fall.

The sugar price index rose by 2.5 percent from June 2015, largely due to less than ideal harvesting conditions in the main producing region of Brazil.


Forecasters say a well below-average hurricane activity in play for the 2015 season

SINT MAARTEN – Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology forecasters are of the opinion that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season continues to exhibit well below-average activity.

On August 4, this is the seventh year that the Tropical Meteorology Department have issued shorter-term forecasts of tropical cyclone (TC) activity starting in early August. These two-week forecasts are based on a combination of observational and modeling tools.

The primary tools that are used for this forecast are as follows: 1) current storm activity, 2) National Hurricane Center (NHC) Tropical Weather Outlooks, 3) forecast output from global models, 4) the current and projected state of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and 5) the current seasonal forecast.

Forecasters from the Colorado State University believe that the next two weeks will be characterized by activity at below- average levels (<70 percent of climatology).

The below-average forecast is due to a combination of factors. No tropical cyclones are currently present in the tropical Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center gives a 10% chance of development in the next 48 hours for a system that is currently located near the South Carolina coast. This system is unlikely to develop, and none of the reliable forecast model guidance develops any other tropical cyclones in the Atlantic during the next five days, therefore the seasonal forecast is for a well below-average hurricane season.



Amid ‘steady rise’ in rhino poaching and elephant killings, UN urges action to tackle illegal wildlife trade

INTERNATIONAL – Recognizing that wild animals and plants are an “irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the Earth,” the United Nations General Assembly today urged its Member States to take decisive steps to prevent, combat and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife, “on both the supply and demand sides.”

Through the newresolution, the Assembly expressed serious concern over the steady rise in the level of rhino poaching and the alarmingly high levels of killings of elephants in Africa, which threaten those species with local extinction and, in some cases, with global extinction.

“Illegal wildlife trafficking not only threatens species and ecosystems; it affects the livelihoods of local communities and diminishes touristic attractions. It compromises efforts towards poverty eradication and the achievement of sustainable development,”saidthe President of the 69th session of the Assembly, in remarks read by Vice-President Denis G. Antoine.

Adopting a consensus text resolution, the 193-Member body encouraged Governments to adopt effective measures to prevent and counter the serious problem of crimes such as illicit trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products, including flora and fauna and poaching.

The resolution suggests “strengthening the legislation necessary for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of such illegal trade, as well as strengthening enforcement and criminal justice responses, acknowledging that the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime can provide valuable technical assistance in this regard.”

The General Assembly also calls upon Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora involving organized criminal groups a “serious crime.”

Member States are equally encouraged to harmonize their judicial, legal and administrative regulations to support the exchange of evidence, as well as to establish “national-level inter-agency wildlife crime task forces.”

“The adoption of this resolution today and its effective implementation will be crucial in our collective efforts to combat illicit trafficking in wildlife worldwide,” adds the President’s statement.


Momentum building for UN-backed accord to combat billion dollar rogue fishing business

INTERNATIONAL – Thirteen additional countries need to ratify an agreement brokered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to combat illegal fishing by blocking ports to ships known or believed to be carrying illicit catches that account for more than 15 per cent of global output, the agency said today.

“A growing numbers of countries are ratifying an international agreement to combat illegal fishing, fuelling interest in how best to implement the instrument,” FAO said in apress release.

Illicit fishing, according to the agency, includes operating without authorization, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, and “may account for up to 26 million tonnes of seafood a year, more than 15 percent of the total global output.”

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to strip between $10 billion and $23 billion from the global economy, and its impacts undermines the way fish stocks are managed to make it a double concern around the world,” it said.

To help tackle the problem, FAO brokered the adoption in 2009 by its Member States of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

The FAO-brokered agreement comes into force when 25 countries have deposited their instrument of ratification, known as acceptance of accession. So far, 12 countries have done so, the latest being Iceland in June. Two more states will soon join them, according to FAO.

In addition to Iceland, signatories that have completed the ratification process are Chile, the European Union, Gabon, Iceland, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

“The Agreement promotes collaboration between fishermen, port authorities, coast guards and navies to strengthen inspections and control procedures at ports and on vessels,” it said. “Importantly, it also allows states to prevent the landings of catches derived from IUU fishing by vessels regardless of the flag they fly.”

Blaise Kuemlangan, Chief of FAO’s Development Law Service, said “the Agreement aims to harmonize port controls in order to prevent illegally caught fish from ever entering international markets through ports.”

The ability to turn away vessels taking part in illegal fishing will greatly reduce opportunities for selling their catch, decreasing illicit fishing worldwide, according to Mr. Kuemlangan.

The Agreement will also enable better compliance with the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which seeks to promote the long-term sustainability of the sector.

To assist countries in building their capacity to implement the agreement, FAO has convened workshops in all world regions, with the Atlantic coast of Africa being “a key priority,” the agency said.

FAO said so far Gabon is the only African country to have ratified the Agreement, but several others are close to completing the process.


‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief

INTERNATIONAL – Millions of children around the world are caught up in adults’ wars, declared the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today, marking the 10th anniversary of a UN Security Council resolution that established a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the use of child soldiers with a strong call for accountability and robust measures to end all “horrors” children face.

In a statement, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that today, millions of children are deliberately killed, injured, raped, abducted. Their schools and homes are being destroyed; they are being denied food, water and health care. Tens of thousands are forced to join armed forces and groups.

“Ten years ago, the UN Security Council passedresolution 1612, to better protect children affected by conflict. Today, enormous efforts are being made to protect children in countries at war,” he said, noting that last year, more than 10,000 children were released from armed forces and groups worldwide, and received support returning to their communities.

“But violence involving children in conflicts has taken a darker turn,” Mr. Lake warned, spotlighting reports from Iraq, Nigeria and Syria that have revealed how children are being used by adults as perpetrators of extreme violence – children who have been forced to observe and participate in executions, encouraged to believe that violence is normal, their young and impressionable minds exposed to senseless brutality, in total disregard of the sanctity of childhood.

“Every child in a conflict who is killed or forced to kill, or who has witnessed the brutality of war, is a victim – an innocent who has borne the cost of conflict not of her or his making,” the UNICEF chief said, declaring: “We should be outraged that such suffering continues and that more is not being done to end these horrors and to hold those responsible to account.”

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio