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Samples of whale carcass sent for testing

SABA – Recently the floating carcass of a Humpback Whale was spotted off the north coast of Saba, about three to five miles out at sea.

The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard helicopter was alerted about something floating in the sea.  In first instance, those who spotted the objective thought a boat may have had an accident.  The helicopter surveyed the object and identified it as a whale carcass.

The Dawn II Ferry as well as dive boats from Sea Saba and Saba Divers visited the location.

At the location of Humpback carcass, a school of Tiger, Bull, Thresher and Blue sharks were feasting on the dead whale.  Some sharks measured about four meters in length.

The Saba Marine Park visited the site and took images and tissue samples that would be forwarded to the NOAA and Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands for analysis.

whale pix inside

whale three pix

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MSC Armonia makes Inaugural Call. Oldest ship in MSC Cruises Fleet

PORT ST. MAARTEN – MSC Armonia made its inaugural call last week and was welcomed by Port St. Maarten representatives where the official plaque and welcome pleasantries were exchanged.

The Captain, crew and passengers were welcomed to the destination by Port St. Maarten Management representative Hector Peters on behalf of the Government and the Port.

MSC Armonia is the oldest ship in the MSC Cruises fleet, built in 2001 for the former Festival Cruises.  The vessel started to sail under MSC in 2004.  The ship underwent refurbishment in 2014-2015.

MSC Cruises, a Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line, grew by 800 per cent since 2004, and carried 1.67 million guests in 2014, reported strong financial results with a turnover of 1.5 billion Euro. 

MSC Armonia during the summer time caters to mostly European passengers, mainly from Italian, French, Spanish, and German speaking countries.  During the winter months, MSC attracts cruise passengers from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia as well as a number of Europeans.

The ship carries 2,065 passengers; 760 crew; has 12 decks; and a gross tonnage of 65,542.

MSC Cruises is one of the cruise lines that have been growing its fleet. The cruise line employs 15,000 staff members around the world and is present in 45 countries.

MSC Cruises has a fleet of 12 ships.  In 2014 MSC launched an investment plan to support the second phase of growth and in April 2016, the cruise line ordered additional vessels for a total investment of nine billion Euros for up to 11-new next-generation ships which will come into service starting in 2017 to 2026 making the cruise line the third largest.

MSC Cruises is the first global cruise line brand to develop an investment plan of this length and magnitude, spanning a horizon of over 10 years, from 2014 through 2026.

MSC Cruises is the brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, sailing year-round in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.  Seasonal itineraries cover northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, Cuba and the French Antilles, South America, southern Africa, China and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman.

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Power of Knowledge Series presents Business Planning with Edsel Gumbs on Thursday

PHILIPSBURG - The Philipsburg Jubilee Library in collaboration with Repairers of Broken Walls International Community; Mrs. Napolina Richardson, will be presenting under the Power of Knowledge Series 2017, “Business Planning.”

This information event will be held on Thursday 30th March, 2017, from 7.15 -8.45 pm. Our Guest speaker will be Mr. Edsel Gumbs.

Edsel Gumbs holds a Bachelor’s Degree (UOC) and Associate (USM) in Business Management & Marketing, winner of St. Maarten’s Chambers of Commerce business plan writing competition 2016, and has been recognized as “ Man of the year 2016” for his services by ROTERACT.

Repairers of Broken Walls International Community (ROBWIC) is a humanitarian organization that was founded in St. Maarten in 2010 with the purpose to serve communities and uplift people wherever there is a need and provides other training initiatives.

Through its Power of Knowledge Series, the library hopes to bring awareness and trainings through various subject matters and to empower the community of St. Maarten.  Our joint objective being to share information that would stimulate entrepreneurship within our community and educate the public on writing business plans.

Topics that will be discussed on Thursday 30th of March will be Business plan writing, structuring, what goes into a business plan, what banks and funding agencies look for within a business plan.

Participation will be encouraged from the audience as persons will have the opportunity to ask related questions on their intent to start their own business, applying for loans and funding, structure of their business and putting a business plan together.

“Business planning” information session will take place this Thursday March 30th , 2017, time 7.15pm sharp to 8.45pm

Please call Brenda Abbott 580-6910, Edsel Gumbs, 524-0323 at (ROBWIC) or Maryland Powell of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library 542-2970 for more information.

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In Tribute to Officer Annick Arrindell, Police Management Team to Direct Traffic Flow on Monday

PHILIPSBURG - As a tribute and in recognition of their beloved and late colleague Annick Arrindell, who  became well known to many because of her traffic regulating skills, as she stood many early weekday mornings at the intersection of Zagersgut road and Coralita road to help regulate the very heavy flow of traffic coming from the Sint Peters and Reward areas into Philipsburg, four members of the Police Management Team has decided that they will go out on Monday morning March 27th and take part in regulating the traffic coming from those areas.

The Management Team members are; Chief Commissioner Carl John who will stand at the intersection L.B. Scot road-Gladiola road, Commissioner Denise Jacobs at the intersection Zagersgut road-Coralita Road, Chief Inspector Benjamin Gout at the Churchill Round About and Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson at Intersection L.B. Scot road-Sint Peters road. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Armed robbery at St. Peters Golden Sail Supermarket

ST. PETERS - The Special Robbery Unit is presently investigating an armed robbery committed by an unknown man armed with a handgun at Golden Sail Supermarket in St. Peters on Thursday March 23rd at approximately 8.50 p.m.

According to the two victims the suspect stormed into the establishment and while threatening them with his firearm, he robbed the establishment of an undisclosed amount of cash and an I-phone. 

The suspect was dressed in dark clothing and was also wearing a helmet. After committing this act the suspect fled the scene on foot. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Stability for Prosperity! Title Governing Program 2016 – 2020

POND ISLAND - On Thursday, March 23, Prime Minister William Marlin presented as part of the launch of the governing program 2016 – 2020 “Stability for Prosperity!” a hard copy of the program to Parliament. The presentation was made to the Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams and Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson, second Vice Chairman.

The governing program outlines the vision and strategy for the governing period. The program was formulated by a workgroup established by the parties that rejoined forces after the 2016 elections – the National Alliance, the United St. Maarten Party and the Democratic Party - under the umbrella of the United Democratic Alliance.

According to the Prime Minister, “the continued union of the United Democratic Alliance is a solid base to ensure the achievements towards the stability and growth of Sint Maarten. Given the parties' desire to continue developing a sustainable, equitable and flourishing Sint Maarten for all the governing program 2016-2020 has been named "Stability for Prosperity!”

It is the intention that at the beginning of April a formal presentation to the members of Parliament will take place. At that moment the Prime Minister will provide a general overview of the five strategic objectives of the program - Nation building & good governance, Sound financial management, Public safety, Socio-economic & environmental sustainability and Enhanced quality of life – while each minister will present their concrete action plans of projects and initiatives for the coming year which are formulated taking into consideration the feasibility, the present operation, the available human resources, and the financial capabilities of the respective ministries.

“The governing program forms a solid foundation on which ministers and their respective ministries are expected to build upon. It serves as a road map to government, Sint Maarten citizens, and the private sector for the country’s journey towards prosperity in the coming years.”

As the Council of Ministers is committed to open and transparent communication, different channels and methods of communication such as Facebook will be used to include and inform all stakeholders; a special website has been created where a full copy of the program can be viewed and downloaded: www.StabilityForProsperity.sx.

Monitoring and reporting will also form an integral part of the way the Council will work throughout this governing period.

As part of the launch a personal message of Prime Minister Marlin was e-mailed to all civil servants emphasizing their essential role in the execution of the governing program.

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CARNIVAL 2017: Police addresses the youth and their parents

PHILIPSBURG - The 2017 Carnival season has already started even though the Festival Village has not yet officially opened. The “Causeway Jump–up” has already taken place and it was unfortunate and unnecessary that a 14 year old boy was seriously injured by another teenage boy with a weapon during this event.

Due to the severity of the injuries the victim sustained he was flown off island for further medical treatment. A teenage girl was also injured during this incident and treated for her injuries. The suspect in this case has been arrested and remains in custody for further investigation.

The Police Department is hereby sending out a very stern message to all youngsters and their parents. The Police Department is approaching the Carnival Season with a 0-tolerance policy.

Any criminal activity and or misconduct will not be tolerated and will be dealt with immediately and swiftly. There is a “transaction list” with the most occurring criminal activity related to the carnival season which has been published and the Police Department in collaboration with the Public Prosecutor Office will maintain and uphold this policy.

One of the issues that the police department will be addressing during the jump ups are youngsters, men and women, who have their face entirely or partially covered in some form or fashion, to conceal their identity.

While they conceal their identity they take advantage to act out with extreme violence against others causing fights and a lot of disruption to others during these events.

Police officers will be reacting to this issue, to their discretion, and approaching persons with their face covered asking them to identify themselves with proper identification (Picture I.D.).

Parents should take the responsibility to talk seriously to their children about the consequences of their actions, such as alcohol and drugs use and abuse before they leave house to attend any of these events. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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SMCP: PARLIAMENT AND ITS SUPERVISORY ROLE

PHILIPSBURG - Through its work, Transparency International (TI), a global organization, hopes to realize a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people will be free of corruption, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Wycliffe Smith said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“Upon a country’s request, TI assesses its weaknesses and strengths with regard to integrity and good governance. Assessments were conducted for the Netherlands in 2012, for Curaçao in 2013 and for Sint Maarten in 2015.

“To be able to assess a country’s integrity, TI looks at several pillars such as the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, the public sector, law enforcement agencies, etc. For the purpose of this article, we will only deal with the legislative branch or Parliament. Even though TI warns against using the reports to compare countries, one can still make some broad statements as far as the three parliaments are concerned.

“It appears that the Netherlands has more laws in place to counter corruption and to promote integrity than Curaçao and Sint Maarten. However, the enforcement of these laws leaves much to be desired in the Netherlands and to a greater degree in the two other countries. The reports also show that one of parliament’s cardinal tasks, namely supervising the executive branch is very much lacking. For this task, TI gives Sint Maarten and Curacao a score of 25 which is considered quite weak. The Netherlands gets a score of 50 which is considered by TI as moderate.

“These scores indicate that the parliaments of the three countries most definitely need to improve this aspect of governing. According to Article 43 of the Kingdom Charter, the individual countries must realize good governance and it is the responsibility of the Kingdom Government to safeguard good governance.

“Each of the three integrity reports mention the fact that none of these countries have an anti-corruption agency which according to TI is “a specialized, statutory and independent public body of a durable nature, with a specific mission to fight and reduce corruption through preventative and/or repressive measures”. Therefore, the suggestion from our Prime Minister to strengthen existing entities like the Ombudsman and the General Audit Chamber, to enable them to carry out the tasks of the Integrity Chamber is internationally unacceptable.

“In November 2006, the Netherlands ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and in December of the same year the Netherlands Antilles requested the Netherlands for permission (medegelding) to enforce the convention in the future. Hence, Sint Maarten has no choice but to endorse this convention as well.

“The following is an example of how parliament exercises its supervisory function over the executive branch. On August 21st 2015, Parliament debated and approved the Integrity Chamber Ordinance. After the approval, the Ombudsman submitted the Ordinance to the Constitutional Court for review, noting that it violated legislative procedures, due to the fact that the Council of Advice had not been consulted.

“Furthermore, the ordinance also violated the rights to privacy and to a fair trial. Consequently, the Constitutional Court annulled the Ordinance in its entirety. After the annulment, parliament made no official attempts to find out what was happening to the ordinance. Not one Member of Parliament questioned the government or the Prime Minister.

“When the Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk took action and appointed the quartermaster on January 13th 2017, it was the Honorable Prime Minister, and not the Parliament, who took the initiative to meet with Parliament. After hearing the Prime Minister and debating the issue, Parliament unanimously passed a motion condemning the decision of the Dutch Minister to appoint a quartermaster.

“Parliament also requested the Government to present a plan of approach, as to how it will tackle the various integrity reports. Unfortunately, Parliament overlooked the fact that many of the recommendations in these integrity reports relate to the functioning of parliament itself and as such cannot expect the government to include parliament in its plan of approach. Parliament will need to deal with the findings and recommendations itself, for example, via the Ad Hoc Integrity Committee.

“Earlier this month, the Prime Minister William Marlin met with Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, in Aruba, to discuss among other things, the issue of the appointment of the quartermaster. After much ado in government, parliament and in the media, about the appointment of the quartermaster, we the people expected to get a report on the outcome of Prime Minister Marlin’s discussion with Minister Plasterk concerning this issue.

“However, all we have learned thus far, via the media, is that the two Ministers “will keep talking”. This is a strange way of handling this matter, since after it was taken to the floor of parliament, it became public and consequently became the people’s business. It is strange that not one of our representatives in parliament has seen it fit to question the Prime Minister on our behalf.

“Even though parliament unanimously condemned the quartermaster’s appointment, to date, as far as we know, Parliament has not been informed about the outcome of the meeting between the two Ministers. According to general supervisory procedures, Parliament should invite the Honorable Prime Minister to report on the meeting. SMCP is looking forward to this meeting,” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party concludes.

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Minister Lee Encourages Public to Attend Lion’s Health & Wellness Fair

POND ISLAND – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil Lee encourages everyone to take the time and visit the 9th Annual Lion’s Health & Wellness Fair happening this Saturday, March 25, from 9:00am to 4:00pm at St. Maarten Festival Village.

A variety of stakeholders will be available to the public, providing testing, lectures and important information about their health and wellness, all at no cost. 

Guest Speaker Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake, who is a cardiologist by profession, will be speaking about hypertension, stroke, and lifestyle improvements.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is also participating with the inclusion of the Dental Health bus and Minister Lee encourages the public to attend this Health & Wellness Fair.

This is a great opportunity for those in attendance to receive information and best practices on achieving a healthy lifestyle. Businesses who cater to healthy eating lifestyles, various activities for children, and Zumba will be available during the fair.

Stakeholders include:

•        The AIDS Foundation

•        Sickle Cell Foundation

•        Alpha Health Care

•        Enable Holistic Occupational Therapy

•        Parkinson Foundation

•        Diabetes Foundation

•        SZV, among many others

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Tourist Bureau represents St. Maarten at ITB Berlin

SINT MAARTEN/GERMANY - St. Maarten was recently represented by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) at ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) the world's largest tourism trade fair. The companies represented at the fair include hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies.

STB was represented by Marketing Officer Gianira Arrindell, who besides taking part in discussions with European airlines to gauge interest in servicing St. Maarten, but met with St. Maarten’s new marketing and promotional firm for the Benelux market, Aviareps. She was able to witness firsthand how vast the company’s network is and how the destination can utilize this network to generate new business.

Arrindell also engaged in discussions with Condor Airlines and others who will hold follow-up sessions with STB in the department’s efforts to secure new airlift form Europe. 

From 8 to 12 March 2017, over the five days of the show, more than 10,000 exhibiting companies from 184 countries and regions displayed their products and services on 1,092 stands to visitors. The global tourism industry exhibited its latest products and trends on an area covering 160,000 square metres.

About 7,000 journalists attended the ITB Berlin, of whom about 1,500 came from abroad. In addition to the industry's leading trade magazines, business and travel journalists from 94 countries report on the latest travel trends and products. The ITB Berlin takes place annually in March.

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