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Soualiga News II (2520)

Seven Member U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Curacao

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - A bipartisan delegation of seven members of the United States House of Representatives, led by Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), visited Curacao on April 24, 2019. “We discussed a variety of issues of mutual interest, including the crisis in Venezuela, its impact on the refinery, and Curacao’s role as a humanitarian hub for aid for Venezuelans; an effort supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“This important visit amplifies our shared commitment to increase security, prosperity, and wellbeing of the people of the United States and Curacao,” Consul General Hawthorne said.

The delegation met with Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, Justice Minister Quincy Girigorie, Finance Minister Kenneth Gijsbertha, Members of Curacao’s Parliament, and representatives of the Curacao Refinery (RdK) and the Project Management Organization (PMO). The Members of Congress also visited the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue.

Congressman Sires is the Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and also serves on the Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, as well as the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is focused on improving human rights and freedoms across the globe and building international partnerships to improve security in the United States.

The other Members of Congress in the delegation were Representative Ted Yoho of Florida, Representative Gregory Meeks of New York, Representative Ted Deutch of Florida, Representative Tom Graves of Georgia, Representative Norma Torres of California, and Representative Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico.

us consul ins1 wed2404

Courtesy call to Curacao's Prime Minister.

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Female arrested after Ill-treatment with a weapon

PHILIPSBURG - A female suspect identified with initials S.A.L. was arrested on Tuesday April 23rd suspected of seriously ill-treating another female with a metal staff and causing severe injury to one of her eyes, police said in a report on Wednesday.

The incident took place during an argument which turned into a fight. The suspect was taken to the police headquarters for questioning and remains in custody for further investigation. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Library Hosted a Successful Story Time Easter Egg Hunt

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Wednesday, April 17th, 2019, it was a fun and crowded house when the Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL) hosted a story time and Easter egg hunt for thirty pupils ages 0-3 years at the new temporary location upstairs of the Adolphus Richardson Building # 3 W. J. A. Nisbeth Road, PJL said on Wednesday in a media statement.

As the library considers literacy the greatest core component and gateway to education the children attending the event were engaged in fun interactive storytelling. Thereafter there was a sing- along, followed by an Easter egg hunt. Hundreds of eggs were hidden throughout the library as part of the Easter egg hunt. The children attending were enchanted from start to finish with entertainment galore to their delight.

Children received refreshments and a special “goody” bag, along with all the Easter eggs they had collected. Parents took this opportunity to enroll their children to be members of the library.

The Philipsburg Jubilee Library will continue to create programs such as these that stimulate the imagination and expand the understanding of one’s environment through books, language and listening skills.

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Consumer price increase on Bonaire slows down

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In Q1 2019, consumer prices on Bonaire were 0.7 percent higher than one year previously. The increase was still 3.4 percent in the previous quarter. Prices also rose on St Eustatius and Saba, by 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent year-on-year respectively. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of the consumer price index (CPI).

On Bonaire, CPI-based inflation was tempered by the price development of electricity. In Q1 2019, electricity was on average 10.5 percent cheaper than one year previously. In addition, petrol was down in price while average price levels of clothing and footwear declined year-on-year as well. On the other hand, drinking water rose in price by nearly 44 percent over a period of 12 months. As of 1 April 2018, maximum rates were introduced by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). These were raised as of 1 January 2019.

Consumer prices on Statia 0.7 percent up

In Q1, consumer prices on St Eustatius were 0.7 percent up year-on-year; this was still 1.1 percent in the previous quarter. The increase was slowed down by price developments of clothing and drinking water. Drinking water is currently almost 4 percent cheaper than one year previously. The price development of electricity had an upward effect on consumer prices. Electricity prices were reduced as of 1 January 2019. Nevertheless, electricity is still over 4 percent more expensive than in Q1 2018.

Prices further up on Saba

In Q1 2019, prices of goods and services on Saba were on average 0.6 percent up year-on-year, whilst still being at the same level in Q4 2018. Fresh fruit and vegetables increased in price. Petrol and airfares had an upward effect on consumer prices as well. Petrol, for example, was almost 14 percent more expensive year-on-year; airfares went up by more than 5 percent on average.

Development of electricity prices for consumers

As of 1 July 2017, ACM set maximum distribution rates for electricity on Saba and St Eustatius. On both islands, this had different consequences for consumers. On Statia, electricity prices have dropped by 9.0 percent over the past five years; on Saba they have increased by 8.9 percent.

On Bonaire, ACM introduced maximum rates as of 1 April 2018. Since 2018, the price of electricity has fluctuated substantially. Over the past five years, electricity has become 10.3 percent cheaper for consumers on the island.

Provisional figures

Figures referring to Q1 2019 are provisional and will be definitive upon publication of the figures over Q2 2019.

bon consumer ins1 end

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Cracks emerge in Forum voor Democratie after hard-hitting interview

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Cracks emerged in the leadership of nationalist party Forum voor Democratie at the weekend, with the party’s soon-to-be leader in the senate criticising co-founder Thierry Baudet in an interview with the NRC.

In the interview, Henk Otten, who co-founded the party and will lead the 13-strong senate grouping in June, criticised the way Baudet is ‘taking the party to the right’ and flirting with alt-right ideas.

There is, Otten said, no room in Forum for ‘all that alt-right stuff’ and criticised Baudet’s 21-minute victory speech after last month’s provincial elections. In addition, more people than Baudet should be involved in setting out the party’s course and the party’s hotline for reporting ‘left-wing indoctrination’ is ‘a misser’, Otten said.

Nor, said Otten, is he in favour of the party’s backing for a Nexit. And the ‘good people’ working for the party in the provinces have issues with Baudet’s controversial and romanticised statements about a ‘boreal word’ and ‘white dominated’ Europe, he told the paper.

No comment

Baudet and his fellow MP Theo Hiddema have not yet commented publicly on the interview, but political commentators have questioned Otten’s motives in going public. Is, for example, the interview a pre-cooked plan to make sure that the party can continue appeal to a broad spectrum of voters?

The NRC, in its analysis, said the interview would appear to show that Forum is seriously divided. ‘And Henk Otten considers the party is strong enough to call out this division,’ the paper said.

It remains to be seen if Baudet and his supporters are prepared to take a more back-seat role, as Otten would like to see, Volkskrant said in its report on the divisions. The Volkskrant said Otten’s interview was putting the party through a new stress test and points out that he and Baudet have clashed earlier about Europe.

Asked in February if it is the party leader who will eventually choose the party’s course on Europe, Baudet said ‘naturally’, the paper points out.  (DutchNews)

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Housing and schools under pressure: Amstelveen in ‘dialogue’ with Indian expats

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amstelveen city council has set up a ‘dialogue’ with Indian expats to improve the relationship between locals and new arrivals, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday.

Around one-fifth of the 90,000 people who live in Amstelveen are not Dutch nationals and the Indian community has doubled to some 5,000 people in five years, the paper said.

This has not only made the city more ‘colourful’, with Indian shops, dance and festivals, but has also created challenges in terms of housing and education, the paper said. The FD quotes local photographer Eric Grooters, who says the current situation is a ‘mega problem’ and that Amstelveen ‘has turned into Mumbai on the Amstel’.

Grooters, who first protested about the number of Indians living in the city last year, describes the international workforce as a ‘tsunami of expats’, making it impossible for local youngsters to find a place to live.

Similar complaints have been made by the Socialist party in Amsterdam. International character City alderman Floor Gordon told the paper she is proud of Amstelveen’s international character but admits there are problems with education and housing which need dealing with.

The council has set aside €500,000 a year to invest in newcomers’ classes to help children settle into the Dutch system and councillors have also voted to invest in subsidising international education.

Amstelveen also has a new international school with space for 600 children, the FD points out. More than 20 different organisations took part in the first round-table talks and the groups are now looking into setting up an umbrella group, Gordon told the paper.

‘I understand that there is pressure on the housing market, and that people have to get used to each other,’ she said. ‘The council is moving with the times and I would prefer not to make the problem bigger than it really is.’ (DutchNews)

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Klaas Dijkhoff sets out his stall with ‘Liberalism that works for people’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – VVD parliamentarian Klaas Dijkhoff, who is widely tipped as the next party leader when Mark Rutte steps down, has set out his vision for the party’s future.

In a ‘discussion document’ published at the weekend, Dijkhoff said that the VVD is ‘a Liberal and a right-wing party’. Dijkhoff currently leads the 33-strong group of VVD MPs in parliament.

‘We are not moving to the left and we are not moving further to the right,’ Dijkhoff said in the document, entitled ‘Liberalism that works for people’. The party, Dijkhoff said, has listened too much to big companies.

The man in the street should not only be protected against the government, but that the government should have a role when big firms threaten individual freedoms, he said.

The document focuses on the need to ensure ‘a broad middle class’. ‘Their dreams and their worries should be the starting point for our political answers,’ he said.

‘A society without a stable middle class can never be stable… and it is the same middle class which, if we don’t do the right thing, will be pressured by trends such as globalisation, migration, flexible working patterns and technology.’

Education

In particular, Dijkhoff called for the abolition of current freedom of education rules if they lead to the development of schools which ‘service segregation and maintain a parallel society in which the dominant values conflict with our key values of freedom and equality’.

Although seen by commentators to be directed at Islamic education, ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Seegers, was quick to describe the measure as ‘out of proportion’. ‘Dijkhoff wants to limit a freedom which schools and millions of people make use of and that is not necessary,’ Seegers said.

‘We have to tackle the abuse of freedom, and freedom is never without limits,’ he said. But this is looking for problems with the wrong people.’ State-funded faith schools are sanctioned in the Netherlands under freedom of education rules, if they have sufficient pupils and meet the proper standards.  (DutchNews)

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Plenary Public session of Parliament regarding several Draft Laws unusual financial transactions

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a Plenary Public meeting on Tuesday, April 23.

The Public meeting is scheduled for 14.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Justice will be present.

The agenda points are: 1. Regulation of tasks; 2. Incoming documents; 3. Approval Decision Lists Public Meetings Parliamentary Year 2017-2018 no. 22 and Parliamentary Year 2018-2019 no. POV 1, 1, 3 and 5; 4. National Ordinance amending the National Ordinance on the obligation to notify cross-border money transfers in response to recommendations 32 and 33 of the Financial Action Task Force (Parliamentary Year 2018-2019-120) (IS/142/2018-2019, dated October 4, 2018); 5. National Ordinance containing rules in order to comply with recommendation 29 of the Financial Action Task Force concerning Financial Intelligence units (National Ordinance Financial Intelligence Unit (Parliamentary Year 2018-2019-124) (IS/604/2018-2019, dated February 18, 2019); 6. National Ordinance containing rules to prevent and combat money laundering and terrorism financing in response to the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (National Ordinance combatting money laundering and terrorism financing (Parliamentary Year 2018-2019-125) (IS/605/2018-2019, dated February 18, 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, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the internet www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Ministry of Public Health: Safe Food Preparation during Carnival Helps Prevent Gastroenteritis

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – During the Carnival season there will be lots to eat and drink. In connection with safe food preparation at home, or grabbing a bite from food kiosks; street market vendors; booth holders; and other points of sale, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday that it is essential to observe safe food handling practices at any one of the aforementioned locations in order for patrons to have a safe Carnival season.

Gastroenteritis, is the inflammation of the stomach and intestine, which is usually due to acute infection by viruses or bacteria or to food-poisoning toxins and causes vomiting and diarrhea.  Laboratory testing is recommended to identify the specific virus associated to the gastroenteritis.

Unsafe food poses global health threats, endangering everyone.  Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable. 

Food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, and the primary responsibility lies with food producers and consumers.  A large proportion of foodborne disease incidents are caused by foods improperly prepared or mishandled at home, or in food service establishments.

The associated symptoms with gastroenteritis are diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, fever and headache.  The most common symptoms are vomiting and repeated episodes of diarrhea (three or more episodes within 24 hours). To ensure proper diagnosis, care and treatment, consult your physician and for confirmation must be referred to the lab by the physician.  

Salmonella bacteria can contaminate any type of food including fresh produce, raw meat, chips, crackers, soup, peanut butter, even frozen meals.  In chickens it can infect eggs before the shell forms. Symptoms develop 12 to 72 hours after exposure and include stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea. Illness lasts four to seven days.

Salmonella infections have been traced to tomatoes, hot peppers, salad greens, and sprouts. Thoroughly wash and dry produce.

Infection can spread when bacteria found in faeces or vomit is transferred to other objects.  Bacteria can be transferred through poor hygiene. It is spread through contamination of hands, objects or food infected with the aforementioned.   

For example, if someone does not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, any viruses or bacteria on their hands will be transferred to whatever they touch, such as glass, kitchen utensil or food.

To prevent the spread of the infection, wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food; regularly clean hard surface/counters and wipe down with Clorox solution. Make it a routine habit to adhere to proper hand hygiene and cough etiquettes.

If you are a food handler or a care taker, and you are diagnosed with gastroenteritis, with your physician’s consultation, you should remain at home and practice good hygiene while you recuperate.

This will help to mitigate the further spread of gastroenteritis and salmonella cases within the community.  Be on the alert and help minimize the spread of diseases by taking the necessary hygienic and preventive steps. 

Proper hand hygiene helps in preventing bacteria and germs.  Let us collectively have a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Carnival 2019.

For more information call CPS at 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 and 542-1570; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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CPS provides advice to avoid dehydration over Easter Holiday Weekend. Safety first, prevent drowning

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in, and this Easter holiday weekend, where a lot of outdoor activities take place, the current hot and dry weather can make you very thirsty.

When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugars) in your body, which affects the way it functions.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is advising the community to make sure they drink lots of water during the Eastern holiday weekend.

Dehydration is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. The climate with respect to very hot days, at the beach, the amount of physical exercise you are doing (particularly in hot weather) and your diet can contribute to dehydration.

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include: babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss; older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids; people with a long-term health condition – such as diabetes or alcoholism; and athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods.

Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps the skin healthy.

Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include: feeling thirsty and lightheaded; a dry mouth; tiredness; having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine; and passing urine less often than usual.

A baby may be dehydrated if they: have a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on their head; have few or no tears when they cry have fewer wet nappies; and are drowsy.

The body is affected even when you lose a small amount of fluid.

CPS wishes the community and a safe Easter holiday weekend and to drink lots of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Consult your physician if you think you or your child is dehydrated.

As families prepare to enjoy the various Easter water activities, CPS is advising parents and guardians to be vigilant when their kids are in the water having fun this Easter holiday weekend at the beach or pool.

Drowning is among the five leading causes of death among people aged 14 years and under in the Americas, according to the first Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer, published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some strategies that can be used to prevent drowning are: installing barriers to restrict access to bodies of water; close supervision of infants and children under five; teaching children basic swimming skills and training possible bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation. 

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