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Coral Reefs and Economic Diving Sector under Threat from Climate Change, Our Response

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Global temperatures set yet another record last year and the world witnessed exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its ‘Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016’, warning that the extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

The extreme climate conditions also added to human suffering: 2016 saw severe droughts, affecting millions in southern and eastern African and Central American countries. For example, in the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew – the first category 4 (CAT4) storm to make landfall since 1963 – tore a path of destruction in Haiti and inflicted significant economic losses in the Caribbean region.

At least three times so far this winter (2017), the Arctic saw what can be called the Polar equivalent of a heatwave, with powerful Atlantic storms driving an influx of warm, moist air, meaning that at the height of the Arctic winter and the sea ice refreezing period, there were days which were actually close to melting point due to warm temperatures in this part of the world.

Antarctic sea ice has also been at a record low, in contrast to the trend in recent years, and some areas, including Canada and much of the United States, were unusually balmy, whilst others, including parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, were unusually cold in early 2017.

Sint Maarten, and the other islands of the Caribbean Basin also experienced unusually cool/chilly weather during the first two-months of 2017, a testament to on-going global climate change now also at our doorstep.

In United States alone, 11,743 warm temperature records were broken or tied in February, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the WMO.

The aforementioned might seem worlds apart from Sint Maarten and our sphere of life, but it is as close as it gets as well – climate change.

“We are dealing with scientific facts, not politics. And the facts are clear. Climate change is a direct threat in itself, and a multiplier of many other threats,” UN Secretary-General (SG) António Guterres recently told a General Assembly High-Level action event aimed at invigorating political momentum on climate change, highlighting its deep links to the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

UN SG Guterres said his messages to the meeting are simple: “First, climate change is an unprecedented and growing threat – to peace and prosperity and the same in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Second, addressing climate change is a massive opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” he said.

Tackling climate change is a tremendous opportunity for Governments and business as there is no trade-off between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

Our economy is based on tourism, a single pillar.  This means that we have to be very conscious to protect what we have built over several decades.  Our current economic base is facing many challenges, and growth has not been that positive for a number of years.

Sint Maarten’s coral reefs according to the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, contribute annually over US$66 million to our economy.  The diving sector is one of our key areas just like cruise tourism, and the mega-yacht/yachting sector, but receives very little fanfare.  The Nature Foundation carried out an Economic Valuation Study on Sint Maarten’s coral reef ecosystems.

“The report highlights the economic contribution of healthy coral to the economy of Sint Maarten, which was found to be USD$66,606,042. This study is an update of the 2010 study which found that coral reefs contribute $57,742,997 to the economy, and reflects the increase in coral reef associated values since the establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area.

“The results of this study shows that Coral Reefs are one of the island’s most valuable resources and provide livelihoods through coral reef associated tourism as well as protection from large, damaging waves caused by hurricanes.     

“The marine environment of St Maarten includes more than 16km2 of globally threatened coral reef as well as seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. St Maarten’s marine environment is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for various endangered species and the beaches and waters attract approximately 2 million visitors a year, creating employment for 85% of the islands population both directly and indirectly. Tourism and the marine industry contribute significantly to the economy and both sectors depend on the health of St Maarten’s marine resources,” according to the Nature Foundation.       

The aforementioned presents additional opportunities for our country and economy.  Additional protected areas should be introduced which would lead to new diving sites (e.g. manmade for the development of our ecosystem) that would further add to the protection of our coastal communities from storm surge; would provide new areas for coral reef growth and growth in fish populations; would create more employment opportunities for our youth as the dive sector grows. 

Government and Parliament should work together with stakeholders in developing an “Integral Marine Protection-Dive/Fishery Sector Development Plan” that would nurture the aforementioned in a sustainable manner. 

Our country’s underwater ecosystem is not protected from climate change.  Reef systems across the globe have experienced “coral bleaching.”  Coral bleaching is the dying of corals due to high water temperatures.  Nature Foundation says, while any stress can cause corals to bleach, high water temperature has been the major cause of coral bleaching events worldwide in recent decades. When corals bleach for a significant period of time they run the risk of dying all together. Our Nature Foundation has a ‘Coral Bleaching Response Plan’ which was drafted back in 2010. 

“Although the consensus is still out, the increased incidences of Coral Bleaching is more than likely caused by the heating up of the earth due to global warming. In the past decades the Caribbean in particular has seen an increased number of coral bleaching events with the last major bleaching occurring in 2005, where more than half of the Coral Reefs in the Caribbean, including St. Maarten, died,” our Nature Foundation reported.

Climate change is a scientific fact.  Our underwater ecosystem is making a positive economic impact for the national economy, and can be further developed in a sustainable manner while at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change.  In order to accomplish the aforementioned, the necessary urgency and attention of discussion along with resources must be provided.

Where is the country in preparing our readiness and resilience in a time of climate change for a healthy environment and a healthy economy?

Roddy Heyliger

researchCC 2

Photo Contributed: Nature Foundation.

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Closing session, UN Commission agrees roadmap to women’s economic empowerment

INTERNATIONAL, 24 March 2017 – The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women today agreed on a roadmap to women’s full and equal participation in the economy as a vital step to achieving sustainable development as the body concluded its two-week session.

“This Commission has engaged strongly, comprehensively and constructively over the last two weeks in considering the most effective ways in which to bring about change for women in the world of work,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, formally known as the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The outcome document, consisting of a set of agreed conclusions, highlights barriers that women face, such as unequal working conditions, women’s over-representation in the informal economy, gender stereotypes and social norms that reinforce women’s concentration in certain sectors, such as health and social sectors, and the uneven share of unpaid care work that women do.

This year’s Commission drew the attendance of 162 Member States, including 89 representatives at the Ministerial level. More than 3,900 representatives from 580 civil society organizations came to New York from 138 countries, attesting to the growing strength and unity of women’s voices around the world.

Member States expressed concern over the gender pay gap and the persistently low wages paid to women, which are often below decent living wages.

In the final agreement, they commit to the implementation of equal pay policies through social dialogue, collective bargaining, job evaluations and gender pay audits, among other measures.

“There has never been any excuse for the inequality that exists. Now we are seeing a healthy intolerance for inequality grow into firm and positive change,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Underlining that women’s careers should not experience any disadvantage because of pregnancy and motherhood, the outcome document stresses the need to ensure that both women and men have access to paid parental leave and to promote men's usage of such allowances.

For the first time, the transition of informal and domestic workers into the formal economy was a key issue of discussion for the Commission, whose members agreed on the need of promoting decent work and paid care in the public and private sectors; increasing the provision of social protection and wages that guarantee an adequate standard of living; and ensuring safe working conditions for women.

This comes as a matter of concern as many migrant women employed in the informal economy and in less skilled work are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

The Commission recognized the positive contributions of migrants and called for gender-responsive migration policies that promote migrant women’s economic empowerment.

It also calls for strengthened efforts in both public and private sectors to retain women in the workforce and seek more gender balance in managerial positions.

Member States further called for an end to the practice of gender-based price differentiation, also known as the ‘pink tax’ – whereby goods and services intended for or marketed to women and girls cost more than similar items marketed to men and boys.

With the empowerment of indigenous women being the emerging theme of this session, the outcome document urges the full inclusion and development of indigenous women in economic life, including through the establishment of indigenous-owned businesses.

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UN spotlights slave descendants’ legacy of achievements, overcoming ‘dark chapter of human history’

INTERNATIONAL, 24 March 2017 – Stressing the importance of remembering slavery and slave trade in human history, the legacy of which “resounds down the ages,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today highlighted the contributions that people of African descent have made and are continuing to make to their communities and to the world.

“We must never forget this dark chapter of human history,” Mr. Guterres told a General Assembly meeting to commemorate the abolition of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, ahead of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The International Day, observed annually on 25 March, offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system, and aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

“We must always remember the role played by many of our countries – including my own country of Portugal – in carrying out the largest forced migration in history and in robbing so many millions of people of their dignity and often also of their lives,” Mr. Guterres said.

The legacy of slavery resounds down the ages, and the world has yet to overcome racism. While some forms of slavery may have been abolished, others have emerged to blight the world, including human trafficking and forced and bonded labour. “Heeding the lessons of yesterday means fighting these ills today,” he said.

This year’s commemoration comes as the UN Remember Slavery Programme, which, in addition to educating about one of history’s greatest tragedies, works to combat racism and prejudice, marks the 10th anniversary of its establishment.

The Programme’s theme for 2017 is ‘Remember Slavery: Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent.’ It urges remembrance of the fact that the transatlantic slave trade, while forming a very dark chapter in human history, also led to an unprecedented transfer of knowledge and culture from Africa to the Americas, Europe and elsewhere.

The Programme also invited Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to deliver a keynote address at the Assembly’s commemorative meeting today.

The descendants of slaves have made their mark as inventors, economists and jurists; as authors and scholars; as artists and athletes; as politicians and civil rights leaders.

Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to enter outer space. Ralph Bunche, the first African-American won a Nobel Prize and was one of the most respected and celebrated international civil servants in the history of the United Nations. Derek Walcott, the poet and Nobel laureate from Saint Lucia who died one week ago, confronted the brutality of slavery and the legacy of colonialism through his poetry and writings.

“The United Nations and I personally attach the greatest importance to the challenge of slavery, past and present,” Mr. Guterres said, urging all to unite against hatred at this time of rising divisiveness and build a world of freedom and dignity for all.

In order to more permanently honour the victims, a memorial has been erected at UN Headquarters in New York. The unveiling took place on 25 March 2015. The winning design for the memorial, The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, was selected through an international competition and announced in September 2013.

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Research shows link between temperature rise and human influence, says head of UN climate panel

INTERNATIONAL, 23 March 2017 – Speaking today at a United Nations forum to invigorate political momentum on climate change, the head of a major UN panel on climate change underlined that human influence on the climate system cannot be disputed.

“[Research has] demonstrated the link between cumulative past, present and future carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a given temperature rise,” Hoesung Lee, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stressed in his keynote address at the UN General Assembly High-Level action event today.

“Bigger emissions now mean higher temperature in the future,” he added.

In his address, Mr. Lee drew examples from the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) issued by the IPCC in 2014 and said that since then, warming has continued and global mean temperature rise has reached more than one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels in 2015 and 2016.

Such observed warming led at the centre of the climate model projections assessed in the Report, he explained.

Underscoring that climate change threatened development, impacted economic growth, made poverty eradication efforts all the more difficult and severely underlined food security, Mr. Lee said that rising temperatures also had a very detrimental impact on the environment.

“Oceans are continuing to warm, acidify and lose oxygen,” he said, “Warm water coral reefs are already under pressure and 90 per cent would suffer significant risk from global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius.”

Touching upon the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed with a synthesis report in 2022, said Mr. Lee that it will be ready in good time for the first global stocktaking under the Paris Agreement on climate change the following year.

He also said that scientific research has illustrated that efforts to address climate change and pursuit of sustainable development can support each other, he cited the following example: “If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases [therefore] reducing food waste globally can help fight poverty and hunger while stabilizing the climate.”

He also said that in its subsequent reports, the IPCC seeks to improve its scientific understanding of the economics of addressing climate change, such as of the benefits on health from clean air or the impact on energy security, balance of payments and jobs from energy efficiency.

In his remarks he further mentioned that researchers are on working on new methods to better observe and understand the climate, these will be crucial to help improve weather forecasts and climate projections.

“This science underpins the IPCC’s policy-relevant assessments and is essential for sustainable development planning,” he noted, calling for continued support the vital research.

Concluding his address, Mr. Lee highlighted that the expression “business as usual” is often seen for not taking action on climate.

“Business will be very far from usual in a world of no mitigation, which could see temperatures rise by an average 40 or more over the century,” he said stressing that economic development cannot be pursued by relying on high-carbon technology.

“Actions to limit climate change have a positive impact on the domestic economy and help improve human well-being, and adaptation reduces vulnerability, supporting inclusive and equitable development.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

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Drug & Alcohol Awareness Campaign Kick-off with first information session

POND ISLAND - The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, through, the Inspectorate of Culture, Youth & Sport, has partnered with the St. Maarten Lions Club, through its Junior Club the St. Maarten Leo Club to embark on a Drug and Alcohol awareness campaign, with its main objective to curb the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol use among our youth.

This initiative came about through recent findings within the Ministry of Education has realized that the number of reports of drug and alcohol use among minors are increasing instead decreasing. Our reports also indicate that younger students in our primary schools are also indulging in drugs and alcohol.

On Monday evening, March 20th, the first information session was held where 10 of the 13 entities invited were present, as well as other members of the community.  All persons present engaged in the realities of what we are faced with today, globally as well as locally. 

All persons present were also educated on the use of lyrics in music used to promote drug and alcohol use and violence.  They were also enlightened on the ‘street talk’ used amongst our youth to promote the aforementioned.

It is the intention to have many more informative sessions where we will reach out to the youth organizations, school boards, faculty and students of our schools (primary and secondary level), as well as the parents and guardians of our youth, to further inform, educate and eradicate it among our youth.

At the end of the evening, all attendees signed a pledge of commitment to collaborate in this awareness campaign.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport and the St. Maarten Lions Club would like to thank all persons for attending the information session and we look forward to all and more participating in this fight.

We request that the entire community come out to these sessions when announced as we join hands and together fight this war on drug and alcohol use and abuse among our youth. 

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Barbados to host CaribNOG 13

SINT MAARTEN/BARBADOS - The thirteenth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, or CaribNOG, will take place in Barbados from April 18 to 19, 2017.

CaribNOG is the region’s first volunteer-based community of network engineers, computer security experts and tech aficionados.

“At CaribNOG 13, we’re expecting a large turnout of network operators, telecommunications regulators, academics, Internet service providers, engineering and computer science students, special interest groups and government representatives, drawn from across the region and around the world,” said Bevil Wooding, founder of CaribNOG and Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House.

Since its establishment in 2010, the community’s unique spirit has made it one of the most highly anticipated events on the regional calendar. For Caribbean uber-geeks, CaribNOG’s twice-yearly meetings make it easily distinguishable from other regional tech conferences.

Major global Internet organisations also look forward to the gatherings because they provide a rare opportunity to meet and socialise with the community of professionals responsible for the Caribbean’s computer networks.

CaribNOG13 follows on the heels of a very successful CaribNOG12, held in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, as part of Internet Week Sint Maarten. At CaribNOG 12, some 50 industry professionals from Curacao, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and USA came together from October 24 to 26 to exchange information, trade perspectives and share experiences.

Supported by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Packet Clearing House, ArkiTechs and The BrightPath Foundation, the three-day gathering featured a slate of international experts, who conducted hands-on sessions covering technical, social and policy aspects of Internet infrastructure, cloud computing and cyber security.

Registration details and event information are available on the official CaribNOG website caribnog.org. By GERARD BEST

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Record-breaking weather in 2016 pushes world into ‘truly uncharted territory’– UN agency

INTERNATIONAL – Global temperatures set yet another record last year and the world witnessed exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today, warning that the extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

According to the agency’s Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016, while global temperatures hit a remarkable 1.1 degree-Celsius above the pre-industrial period, global sea-level touch record highs and the planet’s sea-ice coverage dropped more than four million square kilometres below average in November – an unprecedented anomaly for that month.

“This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system,” explained WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident.”

Each of the year since 2001 has seen at least 0.4 degree-Celsius above the long-term average for the 1961-1990 base period, used by the UN agency as a reference for climate change monitoring.

The 2016 heating was further boosted by the powerful 2015/2016 El Niño weather system, during which global sea-level also rose very strongly.

Similarly, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere reached the symbolic benchmark of 400 parts per millions in 2015 – the latest year for which WMO global figures are available – and will not fall below that level for many generations to come because of the long-lasting nature of CO2.

The extreme climate conditions also added to human suffering: 2016 saw severe droughts, affecting millions in southern and eastern African and Central America. For example, in the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew – the first category 4 (CAT4) storm to make landfall since 1963 – tore a path of destruction in Haiti and inflicted significant economic losses in the region.

Vital that Paris Agreement on climate change is fully implemented

In the midst of such challenges, Mr. Taalas, underlined the importance of implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which also entered into force last year.

“The entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4 November 2016 represents a historic landmark,” he said, adding: “It is vital that its implementation becomes a reality and that the Agreement guides the global community in addressing climate change by curbing greenhouse gases, fostering climate resilience and mainstreaming climate adaptation into national development policies.”

He also called for continued investment in climate research and observations to allow scientific knowledge to keep pace with the rapid rate of climate change.

Extremes continue in 2017

The extreme weather patterns are continuing in 2017, said WMO.

At least three times so far this winter, the Arctic saw what can be called the Polar equivalent of a heatwave, with powerful Atlantic storms driving an influx of warm, moist air, meaning that at the height of the Arctic winter and the sea ice refreezing period, there were days which were actually close to melting point.

Antarctic sea ice has also been at a record low, in contrast to the trend in recent years, and some areas, including Canada and much of the United States, were unusually balmy, whilst others, including parts of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa, were unusually cold in early 2017.

In United States alone, 11,743 warm temperature records were broken or tied in February, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the UN agency.

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system,” said World Climate Research Programme Director David Carlson.

“We are now in truly uncharted territory.”

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Lightning fast costume changes, subtle messages characterize “The Dude with the Golden Tune” by Anonymous

PHILIPSBURG – Many of us who have marveled at a magician effortlessly carrying out his acts of deception on stage end up asking the same question - “How’d he do that?” - Watching the opening night of the NIA (National Institute of the Arts) Theatre Lab’s latest production, The Dude with the Golden Tune, one is left with a similar feeling of bafflement and perhaps even wonderment – “how the hell do they get in and out of those fabulous costumes so damned fast?”  

Not such an easy task in the confines of the makeshift theatre space of the John Larmonie Center, where the dressing rooms are literally on the stage, separated only by a thin black curtain that serves as a backdrop.

It would seem that quick changes are par for the course for the success of NIA’s latest production of “The Dude with the Golden Tune” which opened at the Institute’s Black Box theatre last Friday, with five cast members deftly moving from scene to scene with precision and fluidity, using exits and entrances through their curtained backdrops with effortless ease.

The villains are menacingly played and so are their costumes flamboyantly made. And it is that menacing element that, in some ways makes “The Dude with the Golden Tune” a sometimes frightening show.

In the 90 minutes from start of show to final bow you will be introduced to self-mutilation, a hanging, a bullet through the head, death by hypodermic needle, death by gunfire, misogyny, sexism, gender inequality, mental illness, sexual harassment, megalomania, psychosis and suicide – just to name a few.

So, not quite what you might bill as good family viewing. And yet in our modern world of Grand Theft Auto and Dark Souls III, where blood, guts and goriness is the order of the day, “The Dude with the Golden Tune” is tame by comparison and much more creative and comical.

In fact, I would go so far as to recommend this show for family viewing as one sure way to broach the subject of violence in present day society in the context of the family - and not excluding the St. Maarten family.

Participation in brutal video game play is often a solitary pursuit, at best with one other opponent. There are certainly no considerations of conscience or guilt – only how many kills can be amassed in the most violent way.

I viewed the premiere sitting next to 11-year-old Robyn, who I quizzed at the end about what she had seen. She was in awe and not at all perturbed at what she had seen. While admitting that a lot of the words had gone over her head, like me, she was completely thrilled with the happenings on stage and especially – those costumes.

“The Dude with the Golden Tune” tells us that behind every despot is a bleeding heart psychotic, a focused individual who suffered some kind of trauma in early life, and now, many years later, is just, well, misunderstood. Yeah. Right!

There is little to the show in terms of storyline, short of that it pays tribute to just a few of the nefarious characters, without whom James Bond would cease to have any real appeal. It moves easily enough from character to character grabbing a few laughs along the way with a cast that is constantly on the go.

Look out for the bed scene in which three actors transform themselves into a bed complete with sheets, pillows the Dude and a poisonous centipede.

Fact is, the production looks into human nature as portrayed in the past, and reminds us that little has changed. There are still people around with money and power who seem hell bent on taking it all away from the rest of us regardless of the cost.

It speaks of democratization of the mass media and gender inequality as one female cast member after another is herself transformed into the Dude in scenes replete with risqué and overly sexist dialogue.

Whether intended or not, the social commentaries are clearly relevant and timely too, with passing reference to the “Alternative Facts” (reference to a comment made by Donald Trump adviser Kelly Anne Conway as a much-publicized piece of forked-tongue Public Relations two-step) that has become synonymous with plain old lying.

We go to the theatre to be entertained. But we also go to see a part of our own lives portrayed in brutal honesty, satirically or in a comedic way. The Dude with the Golden Tune offers neither. It is a creative piece of theatre in which, believe it or not, much loved baddies are put in the spotlight as much for their own idiosyncrasies and quirks as for their taste in clothing. None of them are idiots. In fact the extensive dialogues of each villain, painstakingly and artfully delivered from monologues taken directly from Bond movies makes it all too clear that our evil-doers just fell south of the line separating their madness from pure genius.

Full credit to Loes Nauta, drama teacher at NIA, for a creative and timely production of “the Dude with the Golden Tune” and also to cast members Dieudonnee Ostiana, Alexandra Stroud, Albina Matuzko, Nascha Kagie, most of whom are experienced stage hands, especially director Loes. All are excellent in their roles with Charlotte Brookson Academy Theater Arts teacher, Alexander Stroud raising the ante with her own vocal solo at the end of the show.

The Dude can keep his Golden Tune – I think I’ll dance to the music of terror and temper tantrums long after the closing credits. It’s surely more fun.

“The Dude with the Golden Tune” will next show at the John Larmonie Center, Philipspburg, on March 25 and 31st at 8 pm.

NIA is urging theatre-goers to get their tickets early through cast members, from NIA itself or by reserving a ticket by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the box-office reserve line: 543 – 0600.

Ticket prices of $20 in advance, 25$ at the door. 10$ for children (7+) and students are available also from the NIA Box-office, open daily from 12:00 noon until 6:00 pm. Early purchase of tickets is highly recommended.

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Poetry gives us hope to scale and climb 'cloudy summits of our time' – UN cultural agency

INTERNATIONAL, 21 March 2017 – Poetry gives us hope, the United Nations cultural agency today said, lauding verse's ability to shake us from everyday life and remind us of the surrounding beauty and the resilience of the shared human spirit.

In her message for World Poetry Day, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova quoted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

We have not wings, we cannot soar;

But we have feet to scale and climb

By slow degrees, by more and more,

The cloudy summits of our time.

“As old as language itself, poetry remains more vital than ever, in a time of turbulence, as a source of hope, as a way to share what it means to live in this world,” Ms. Bokova said.

“By celebrating poetry today, we celebrate our ability to join together, in a spirit of solidarity, to scale and climb 'the cloudy summits of our time',” she noted, in reference to Mr. Longfellow's poem.

UNESCO proclaimed 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999, calling poetry a “a social need” which anchors people to their roots.

One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes dozens of forms of oral expression and poetry, from the Tsiattista poetic duelling of Cyprus, the Ca trù sung poetry of Viet Nam and Al-Taghrooda to the traditional Bedouin chanted poetry of Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

World Poetry Day also celebrates poetry's power to aid peace. UNESCO's new Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity, Deeyah Khan, has said, all art, including poetry, “has the extraordinary capacity to express resistance and rebellion, protest and hope.”

In her message today, the Director-General said that the spirit of solidarity created by poetry is essential to reaching the goals set by the international community to fight inequality, poverty and climate change.

“We need this to take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to implement the Paris Climate Agreement, to ensure no woman or man is left behind,” said Ms. Bokova.

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Tsunami Regional Exercise Set for March 21. One Scenario is an earthquake East of North Eastern Antilles

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE EWS) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Caribbean Regional Emergency Management Stakeholders (CEPREDENAC, CDEMA, and EMIZ) will be conducting the CARIBE WAVE tsunami exercise on March 21, 2017.

The purpose of this exercise is to advance tsunami preparedness efforts in the Caribbean Region. Three exercise scenarios are planned. The first scenario simulates a tsunami generated by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake located off the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, in the southern Caribbean Sea.

The second scenario is a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake located off the south-eastern coast of Cuba, in the north-western portion of the Caribbean Sea. The third scenario is a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.5 earthquake located East of the North-eastern Antilles.

This tsunami exercise is being conducted to assist tsunami preparedness efforts throughout the Caribbean region. Recent tsunamis, such as those in the Indian Ocean (2004), Samoa (2009), Haiti (2010), Chile (2010, 2014, 2015), and Japan (2011), attest to the importance of proper planning for tsunami response.

Historical tsunami records from sources such as the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) show that over 75 tsunamis have been observed in the Caribbean over the past 500 years.

These represent approximately 7-10% of the world’s oceanic tsunamis. Earthquake, landslide, and volcanic tsunami sources have all impacted the region. According to NCEI, in the past 500 years 4,561 people have lost their lives to tsunamis in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions.

Since the most recent devastating tsunami of 1946, there has been an explosive population growth and influx of tourists along the Caribbean and Western Atlantic coasts increasing the tsunami vulnerability of the region (von Hillebrandt-Andrade, 2013).

In addition to tsunamis, the region also has a long history of destructive earthquakes. Historical records show that major earthquakes have struck the Caribbean region many times during the past 500 years. Within the region there are multiple fault segments and submarine features that could be the source of earthquake and landslide generated tsunamis.

The perimeter of the Caribbean plate is bordered by no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Subduction occurs along the eastern and north-eastern Atlantic margins of the Caribbean plate. Normal, transform thrust and strike slip faulting characterize northern South America, eastern Central America, the Cayman Ridge and Trench and the northern plate boundary (Benz et al, 2011).

In addition to the local and regional sources, the region is also threatened by tele-tsunamis/trans-Atlantic tsunamis, like that of 1755 from Lisbon. With nearly 160 million people (Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America) now living in this region and a major earthquake occurring about every 50 years, the question is not if another major tsunami will happen, but when it happens will the region be prepared for the impact.

The risk of earthquakes generating tsunamis in the Caribbean is real and should be taken seriously.

North-eastern Antilles Scenario Along the North-eastern Antilles arc, the Atlantic plate subducts below the Caribbean at a rate of 2 cm per year. The subduction turns nearly perpendicular to the trench at latitudes 12°N and 19°N. Here, in 1843 a major earthquake with estimated magnitudes between M 7.0-M 8.7 and a rupture length between 100-300 km affected the Lesser Antilles region (Hayes et al., 2013).

This event produced a tsunami with maximum water height of 1.2 m at Antigua (https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov). For this exercise a 10 m slip results in a M 8.5 event located at 17°N and 67°W that ruptures a segment 200 km long and 65 km wide, located at 40 km depth.

Based on Bilek and Lay (1999), and the depth of 35 km, a shear modulus of 50 GPa was used. The scenario produces waves of maximum amplitudes larger than three meters, mostly locally, and waves up to three meters at a regional scale.

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