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A lot of hot air? Server farms plan to heat Amsterdam for free

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The residual heat generated by the Equinix data centre on the A10 Amsterdam ring road will partly be used to heat the University of Amsterdam buildings in the city’s science park, the Parool has reported.

In the future, Equinix hopes to deliver the remainder of its surplus heat to the district heating network known as stadsverwarming which already heats some 70,000 homes in the capital, the paper said.

In 2016, Amsterdam city council published a plan to rid the city of gas-fired cooking and central heating by 2050. The city has plans to build 50,000 new homes within the next 10 years and none will have gas heating or cooking facilities.

Instead, the homes will be heated by surplus heat generated by industry – and server farms are an excellent source. There are some 35 data centres in and around Amsterdam and Schiphol airport, each holding tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of computers which are at work day and night.

Together, they generate enough surplus heat to warm up half of Amsterdam, Stijn Grove of the Dutch Data Centre Association told the paper. The DDA estimates that a single 30,000 m2 server farm generates as much heat as the entire catering sector – hotels, restaurants and cafés – used in 2015.

But many problems still have to be ironed out before the excess heat created at the data centres can be used to heat Amsterdam. Chief among these is transport – expensive pipelines are necessary – and the need to raise the temperature of the residual warmth to residential standards. (DutchNews)

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Dutch detectives sound the alarm: four in five cases never investigated

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch police union NPB made an appeal to parliament for increased funding on Tuesday, saying criminals are going unpunished because of the shortage of detectives.

In total, the police need 2,000 more detectives to make sure all cases can be followed up, the union says in a new report, which is in the hands of broadcaster NOS.

The report, based on interviews with 400 detectives, says the force is grappling with too many problems and nothing has been done to improve the detection service since the alarm was last sounded two years ago.

Detectives estimate just one in five cases – usually involving murder, armed robbery and violent crime – is picked up. Just one in three requests for observation teams or digital experts is honoured, leading to cases being abandoned or taking unnecessarily long to be completed, NOS quotes the report as saying.

This means other forms of crime, such as fraud, drugs and sex crimes don’t get the attention they should, the union says. At the same time, hardened criminals are profiling themselves as business men, with investments in property and the hospitality industry.

‘Over the past 25 years, I have seen small time dealers turn into major entrepreneurs with good contacts among politicians and into so-called respectable investors,’ one detective, named in the report as Bert, said. (DutchNews)

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Power cut hits more than 75,000 homes in Arnhem and Amsterdam

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Around 52,000 homes in Arnhem were left without electricity after a power failure on Monday morning. Train services between Arnhem and Dieren were cancelled until 3.30pm and replaced by buses.

The power failure was reported at around 11.30am. The Rijnstate hospitals in Arnhem and Velp ran on reserve power while the electricity supply was off, but all operations and appointments in Arnhem were cancelled.

Around 6,000 homes had no electricity for more than three hours. Earlier in the day some 26,700 homes in Amsterdam’s West district were left without power for several hours.

The outage in Amsterdam happened at around 9.15am and affected homes and business in postcode areas 1058, 1059, 1062, 1065, 1066, 1067, 1068 and 1069, the Parool reported.

Slotenvaart hospital had to rely on a backup generator, but the OLVG and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospitals were able to operate normally. Tram lines 1,2 and 17 ran shorter routes with replacement bus services while the power was off.

Network operator Liander said most properties in Amsterdam were reconnected by 11.30 and it was investigating the cause of the power failure. (DutchNews)

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Police ‘mole’ who leaked case files to underworld gets five-year jail term

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A police officer has been given a five-year jail sentence for leaking confidential information to contacts in the criminal underworld. Mark M. earned at least €80,000 from ‘subscriptions’ paid by criminal suspects to gain access to police files.

The district court in Den Bosch said he had ‘damaged the image of the police force’ and ‘seriously frustrated’ his colleagues’ investigations. M., who was not in court for the verdict, denied all the charges against him and claimed he had looked up information as a ‘hobby’.

The court cleared him of a charge of bribery. Former police Chief Gerard Bouman earlier described M. as ‘the worst rotten apple in years.’ It emerged that M. was one of more than 100 police staff who were given access to confidential files despite failing screening checks.

M. joined the police as a trainee in 2009 and initially worked for CID before transferring to the traffic division. But he retained his login details for the BlueView information system and harvested information from criminal files for four years until he was arrested in September 2015.

The 31-year-old is currently living in Ukraine, his girlfriend’s native country, where he started up a telecoms and security business. He is contesting his dismissal from the police force.

M. claimed that the money he received came in the form of loans, while €4,000 that was found in his flat in Weert was linked to a business venture in Ukraine, where transactions are routinely made in cash. (DutchNews)

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REGION HITS 30 MILLION TOURISM MARK IN 2017

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - Tourism arrivals set new benchmark despite impact of devastating storm in 2017 the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) announced.  The catastrophic hurricanes that devastated some Caribbean destination last September slowed down tourism’s progress but did not stop it, according to figures released by the CTO, the authority on regional tourism statistics.

Ryan Skeete, the CTO’s acting director of research announced at a news conference streamed to a global audience that the Caribbean reached the 30 million mark in stay-over arrivals for the first time ever last year, even as the region battled the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as Hurricane Harvey, which lashed parts of the United States.

In addition there was record spend by visitors, who contributed US$37 billion to Caribbean economies during the 12-month period, up 2.6 per cent over 2016, Skeete reported.

The tourism researcher explained that stay-over arrivals were on track for a strong performance during the first-half of 2017, growing by an estimated 4.8 per cent, but growth was curtailed in the second half of the year by the storms, which resulted in 1.7 per cent drop between July and December 3 increase in arrivals, compared to a decline of 3.1 per cent in 2016.

However, it was the European market that recorded the strongest growth rate, increasing by 6.2 per cent to 5.8 million visitors. The increase in arrivals was not reflected in hotel occupancy, which fell by 1.2 per cent, according to STR (formerly Smith Travel Research), a U.S. company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry.

However, both average daily rate and revenue per available room recorded increases, though slightly. “Notably, the hotel performance indicators excluded most of the hurricane-impacted destinations at this time, due to the disruption in operations caused by the hurricanes,” Skeete said.

The cruise sector also set a new high of 27 million passengers, 2.4 per cent higher than 2016, despite the hurricanes. “The cruise passenger performance mirrors the performance of tourist arrivals, as it grew strongly -4.6 per cent - in the first half of 2017, but contracted marginally – by 0.4 per cent - in the second half of the year.

Indeed, cruise passenger arrivals fell dramatically in September by some 20 per cent. However, growth resumed in October, which saw a two per cent increase,” the CTO official said.

The CTO said the economic conditions are expected to be favourable for further growth in 2018, therefore it predicts growth of two to three per cent in both stay-over and cruise arrivals.

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Qredits is offering 2% microloans to new and existing entrepreneurs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Qredits is now providing microloans to entrepreneurs on St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, with an interest rate of only 2%.  The Qredits office, located in Miss Lalie Commercial Center, is ready to assists entrepreneurs with microloans up to $25.000, personal mentoring and business development tools.

2% loans for entrepreneurs

With the help of the Dutch Recovery Fund, Qredits is now able to provide loans with a low-interest rate of just 2%. On top of that, once the loan is approved, will only pay back the interest rate for the year, not the loan. This means that the first year applicants’ monthly fees will not exceed $50.

“This gives persons a chance to rebuild or start a new venture during these difficult times,” says loan officer Mariah Constant, Qredits Sint Maarten. “Qredits wants to help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs that have a sound business plan but cannot get a loan or mentoring through regular channels,” she adds.

Rebuilding with Qredits

Qredits is a private foundation, which started on 1 January 2009 by a group of public and private partners. Qredits' vision was to build a strong and independent entrepreneurship culture in the Netherlands by providing financing, mentoring and tools for micro-entrepreneurs that have a viable business plan, yet are unable to obtain credit facilities from conventional lending institutions.

As the success of Qredits grew, the foundation also wanted to share its knowledge and experience to foster entrepreneurship in the Dutch Caribbean. In 2015 Qredits opened its first Caribbean branch office in Bonaire.

On September 1st, 2017, Qredits opened their doors on Sint Maarten. Hurricane Irma, devastated the island shortly after. Due to this, Qredits not only is in the position to help new entrepreneurs who want to start a business but also existing businesses that need a boost to rebuild.

Easy application process

Any persons who are legally registered and/or can legally operate a business on Sint Maarten, Saba or St. Eustatius can apply for a microloan via Qredits. An applicant can be someone who has been working for 30 years or someone who does not have any work experience; someone who is unemployed or who previously had a business of their own; someone who is well off or someone who does not have any savings.

Constant and her colleagues encourage persons take a look at the http://stmaarten-en.qredits.com or their Facebook page for more information. Applying for a loan can be easily done online, through the website. “There is a procedure that everyone has to follow to get approved. It is easy and we will help you through it, step by step,” explains Constant.

Interested persons will meet with a Qredits officer, whom will assess their business and financial plan. Qredits also offers educational material and coaching to create a proper business and financial plan. Depending on these plans, that proper paperwork is in place, and the personal commitment the applicant exudes, Qredits will assess the applicants’ loan-request.

Workshops and coaching

Qredits is also planning to hold regular workshops to aid entrepreneurs in growing their business. Some workshops that are in the works include information sessions about Qredits and entrepreneurship, marketing skills and other business development techniques that Qredits noticed a demand for.

Another important aspect of Qredits is that they aim to create a ‘coaching pool’. All branches of Qredits have a group of mentors whom have an affinity with entrepreneurship and want to voluntarily use their knowledge and experience to help others with their business. As this voluntary group grows, Qredits will link them to entrepreneurs who can benefit from their guidance.

Entrepreneurs can apply now

Qredits would like to invite entrepreneurs to take advantage of the low 2% interest rate they are offering. Whether you are an existing or new business you might be able to benefit from any of Qredits services such as microloans up to $25.000, personal mentoring and business development tools.

Qredits St. Maarten, Saba & St. Eustatius is located at Miss Lalie Commercial Center. Check out more information on Qredits Facebook page ‘qredits st. maarten - st. eustatius - saba. Eustatius, Saba’ or http://stmaarten-en.qredits.com. For further questions contact Qredits at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1-721-587-3427.

Qredits is part of the early recovery projects financed by the Dutch Reconstruction Fund for Sint Maarten, under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. For the early recovery phase, a total of 7 million euros in total has been made available for all participating projects that have a direct impact on the population of Sint Maarten.

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SXM Airport Stresses Island and Hub Partners Are Open for Business at Routes Americas in Ecuador

SINT MAARTEN/ECUADOR - “Still Connecting the Caribbean to the Globe,” is the theme of the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, at the 11th Annual Routes Americas conference which is being held in Quito, Ecuador, from February 13 – 15, 2018.

Meanwhile, the associated tag line is “SXM Strong - Rebuilding Our Nation.” Both themes appear vividly on the exhibition booth, which is strategically located at the heart of the Routes Americas exhibition hall.

The event will allow the SXM Airport team to network with international senior airline decision makers. It also offers the opportunity for SXM Airport to build high-value relationships with some of the most influential aviation professionals across the region.

The SXM Airport delegation is led by Michel Hyman, Chief Operations Officer (COO), Some 650 delegates are attending the conference including representatives of 147 airports.

The SXM Airport delegation has confirmed a total of 14 key meeting sessions. The delegation is set to meet with Southwest Airlines, Eurowings, Suriname Airways and Air Canada amongst many of the legacy carriers.

The initial meeting sessions included a meet up with representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA representatives were briefed on the reconstruction process and discussed how IATA can assist with the reviving of the airport.

Another agenda point was the Caribbean Aviation Day which is set to be hosted in Barbados in June 2018. “The vital task at hand is to attract new air lift and service recovery to St. Maarten, while driving home the message that although we are in the midst of our recovery phase, we are actually open for business,” said Hyman.

“Additionally,’ he continued, “our hub partners were affected minimally by the recent hurricanes and are therefore, even more so ready to reap the rewards of the potential partnerships.”

Though eager to bring home great partnership deals with the potential airlines, the delegation remained honest and open with information of the local hotel room inventory as shared by SHTA and target dates of the reconstruction process of the terminal building.

PHOTO: Michel Hyman, SXM Airport COO (File photo)

SXM Airport Michel Hyman COO Act CEO

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Dutch jobs market is starting to overheat for first time since crisis

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – There are so few candidates for every job vacancy in the Netherlands that there is talk of an ‘overheated labour market’ for the first time since the 2008 crisis, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.

In its report on the final quarter of 2017, the CBS said that at the end of last year there were fewer than two (1.8) job seekers for every vacancy. Job numbers increased by 57,000 in the fourth quarter while vacancies were only 14,000 higher.

The number of people without work declined by 29,000 the CBS said. Last month, the state job centre UWV warned that the building, IT, transport and logistics sectors faced the largest shortages of staff.

A full 60% of companies in the building sector are expecting problems in filling jobs this year. But despite the shortage of job candidates, wages are not expected to rise very much, Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at the CBS told the Financieele Dagblad.

Nevertheless the CBS figures are good news for job seekers. Van Mulligen said those having jobs stood a good chance of improving their position through more attractive work or increased hours.

The number of jobs in the Netherlands has risen steadily for the past four years and now stands at 8.2 million, the highest since the crisis but still 10% lower than the all-time high in 2008.

Of the 500,000 jobs created in recent years, half are temporary, a sector which now accounts for 10% of total job numbers. (DutchNews)

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Prime minister survives no confidence vote, says lie is not a deadly sin

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime Minister Mark Rutte survived a no confidence vote on Tuesday evening over his handling of the Halbe Zijlstra affair. Zijlstra stood down as foreign minister earlier in the day after admitting he lied about a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Rutte told MPs during an emotional gathering that he had under-estimated the impact of Zijlstra’s lie and had thought he could continue in the job because he had a good explanation.

‘I thought it was a sin, but not a deadly sin,’ Rutte said. He confirmed that Zijlstra had told him about the lie two weeks previously, after the foreign minister was contacted by the Volkskrant who wanted an interview.

The delay was due to Zijlstra’s busy diary and the fact he was ill for a time, Rutte said. ‘There was no deliberate attempt to delay, but it would have been better if done sooner,’ Rutte told MPs.

Explosive

Opposition MPs said they did not believe Rutte had so under-estimated the situation and said they could not imagine that the prime minister had not discussed such an explosive situation with others.

‘There is a real lack of leadership,’ said Forum voor Democratie’sThierry Baudet. ‘How can the prime minister have wanted to keep Zijlstra on as foreign minister?’ Tunakan Kuzu, leader of Denk, said during the debate.

‘The reputation of our country has taken an enormous international hit’. Rutte survived the no-confidence vote by 43 votes to 101. The Socialists, PVV, Denk, pro-animal PvdD, Fvd and 50Plus all backed the motion. (DutchNews)

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Dutchman takes world’s best baker title for his wow factor bread

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A baker from Barendrecht has won the title of Master of Bakery at the European world championships in Paris, in the category ‘nutritional bread making’.

Peter Bienefelt, who owns the Atelier du Pain bakery in the Rotterdam suburb, says he trained like a top athlete to win the competition, including taking on a mental coach.

The competition included baking bread with the ‘wow’ factor, for which Bienefelt used purified Oosterschelde sea water, algae, squid ink, currents and olives. ‘The bread had a very low percentage of salt,’ he told website Bakkerswereld.nl.

‘That is totally in.’ Bienefelt had to see off the best bakers from Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Turkey to win the prize but says time was his biggest enemy. ‘I did take time to eat and drink… imagine you had to go to the restroom,’ he said.

‘You got five penalty points for every extra five minutes. And you cannot afford that at this level.’ (DutchNews)

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