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Minister Lee Declares “War” on Mosquitos

GREAT BAY – “Normally I don’t respond to melee or nonsense, but the release from MP de Weever warranted a response. As part of open government, multiple people know what’s happening and obviously MP de Weever still has his contacts within the Ministry. The release of MP de Weever was irresponsible and fear mongering for political gain. Creating an impression that Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (Ministry VSA) or its Minister is not “proactive or hands-on” is nonsense.

This was damaging not only to me as Minister but mainly the civil servants that work within the Ministry. After two months of being in office I have more confidence in this Ministry and staff than someone who has worked with them for four years. Attempting to pre-empt Wednesday’s press conference was unprofessional and immature. It was also quite evident that de Weever’s press statement was rushed and showed blatant plagiarism from Wikipedia,” stated Minister Lee during his press briefing statement.

Minister Lee also reiterated that since May 2015 the Ministry through the Department of Collective Services (CPS) has been in communication with PAHO in order to set out a plan on how to respond if an epidemic were to affect the Caribbean region. By December 2015, alert was given that Zika was affecting the region. Minister Lee and the respective stakeholders have since been pro-active in taking preventative measures to protect the population and the economy of Sint Maarten on both a short-term and long-term basis.

On Monday, representatives from VSA and VROMI took a field trip to various locations within Dawn Beach/Oyster Bay  presumed to be the source of past “mosquito borne” viruses. This location was chosen based on the fact that complaints had already come in from this district and the group was able to identify first hand where potential breeding grounds for mosquitos were.  Minister Lee believes “it is essential for all members of the each community/district to come together and identify where in their neighborhood action needs to be taken to reduce the breeding and harboring of mosquitoes. I have driven through all the districts and seen for myself many breeding sites, but the fact is that the majority of these breeding sites are on private land.”

Informed members of the various communities are being requested to report any potential breeding areas to Collective Prevention Services (CPS) by Tel: 721- 542-2078 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  The Ministry of Public Health will spearhead this campaign with Collective Prevention Services (CPS) being at the forefront. This department with its vector control officers will be the one to validate all reports that come in and draft the relevant action plans for the districts. Once this is completed, assistance from Ministry VROMI will also be enlisted. 

Areas which are of high priority to report are locations where storm water and sewage water is stagnating, abandoned houses with empty pools, garbage piles, abandoned tires in addition to any spot where water can collect. The ae. Aegypti mosquito is considered to be a container breeder due to the females preference to lay eggs in containers of stagnant water. When calling please have all the relevant information handy such as; address, contact information of sender and owner (if known) and what the nature of the problem is. If possible, please email a picture as well.

While there is no cure for the ZIKA virus but it can be prevented. It is for this reasons that CPS has already launched a communication awareness campaign on how to safeguard your surroundings to ensure that you have eliminated potential breeding places and awareness of the symptoms associated with the ZIKA virus. The best methods of personal protection are to apply insect repellent and/or to wear long sleeves and long pants.

On-site fogging with hand held foggers will be used based on reports of high priority areas where the Zika, chikungunya and dengue cases are suspected. Fogging is known to be the least effective tool to combat the war against mosquitos as it is highly costly not to mention mosquitos become immune to the chemical that are being used. If you want to have an impact you have to switch chemicals on a continuous basis, therefore the most important tool is awareness, protection, support from the community and compliance.

Minister Lee has also began looking into prevention measures of lethal ovitraps designed specifically to target the ae. Aegypti mosquito, which are claimed to have eliminated dengue in certain regions. This prevention measure has proven to be more effective than fogging. He has already ordered samples of lethal ovitraps to begin to test their effectiveness.

MP de Weever is attempting to highjack a serious Public Health issue for political gain prior to publication creating a false sense of panic for political purposes. Certainly this issue has the concern of the entire Ministry of VSA including its Minister. Playing on the emotions of the people and instilling fear that nothing is being done is not something members of Parliament should spend their time engaging in. Minister Lee stated that he is not amused by such antics from people who should place the interests of the community above politics. (Cabinet of the Minister VSA)

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MP De Weever responds to Minister Lee. Says Zika virus is one of alarming proportions

PHILIPSBURG – Independent Member of Parliament Cornelius de Weever in a reaction to a statement made by the Minister of Public Health Emil Lee, stated the following in a press statement on Thursday: "With respect to the statement made by the Minister of Public Health Emil Lee about plagiarism, this alone tells what is important to Minister Lee, playing political games.  First and foremost, I was providing general information to the people of the country about the Ovitraps. 

"I did not have any quotation remarks around the statement but was provided as general information and was quoted wrongly by an editor, but this is not the point. The people's public health is at stake here, and this is the point!  The minister is attempting to pass the buck, duck and dodge, and throw up a sand-screen in the eyes of the people for his lacklustre response to this very serious developing public health situation.  The minister was off island attending Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association events again when I inquired about his presence.

"Minister Lee says I am fear mongering for political gain.  Once again, this demonstrates that the Minister is not abreast of what is going on regionally and internationally.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that up to more than four million people could be infected with the Zika virus in the coming months.

"The WHO, not MP De Weever, has described the Zika threat 'one of alarming proportions,' and has therefore convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations on the current epidemic for Monday to ascertain whether this outbreak in the Americas which includes the Caribbean islands which we are a part of, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  This was the same response when Ebola presented such a case to the global community of nations.

"I still maintain that the Minister of Public Health should have been proactive which shows a lack of leadership on his part to take command. He has been in the current position for more than two months, and the Pan American Health Organization sent out warnings in December more than six weeks ago and we only now hear the minister making a public statement for the first time.

"I do commend the hardworking staff of the Ministry of Public Health for their continued efforts because they were indeed aware of this new mosquito-borne virus from in May 2015, long before the Minister was appointed to this position.  The ministry between that time and up to the present has been active in keeping the public informed.

"When I was Minister of Public Health, along with the staff from the ministry, we developed a plan to deal with Chikungunya in late 2013 and throughout the first half of 2014.  During that time we worked closely with our colleagues from French St. Martin. As MP, I will be monitoring closely Governments response with respect to this developing situation and will call out where I see government is not performing in the interests of public health," MP Cornelius de Weever said in a press statement on Thursday.

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New Lesson plan on Slavery and Human Rights introduced to school officials

CAY HILL - On Wednesday the 27th of January, a new lesson plan on Slavery and Human Rights was introduced at the Asha Stevens Christian Hillside School at Cay Hill.

One year ago, four students from the University of Applied Sciences, Iselinge, in the Netherlands, did research on Sint Maarten. They wished to develop a method through which youngsters in all parts of the Dutch Kingdom could learn about their shared history and the ways in which that history has shaped the world we all live in today.

The four students interviewed many individuals on the island and developed a lesson plan for one whole month combining history, geography, biology, social science and arts to make pupils work through issues related to identity, Human rights and international relations.

This lesson plan is part of an ongoing project in the Kingdom of The Netherlands that addresses the ways in which pupils imagine different ways of belonging. This project is a joined effort between the University of St. Martin (USM), The University of Amsterdam and the University of Utrecht. For this project, PhD candidate Jordi Halfman has been conducting research in different primary schools on Sint Maarten since August 2015. As part of his project, the lesson plan has been shared with schools on Sint Eustatius and will be taught in the Netherlands this spring.

In cooperation with Miss Halfman, one of the Iselinge students, Tanja Lenderink, returned to the island to teach the lesson plan at Asha Stevens Christian Hillside and Martin Luther King Jr. On Wednesday the 27th, Lenderink presented her experiences and recommendations to a varied audience at Christian Hillside.

After the presentation a lively discussion ensued. G. Holiday-Davis, head of the education department, shared her believe in the need for but also the sensitivity of a program about slavery. Marva Sam, Cycle 2 principle at Christian Hillside was asked to share her experiences with the lessons and the way teachers and students had responded to it.

Both Sam and Principal Stuart Johnson of Martin Luther King Jr. expressed their enthusiasm about the project. Sam emphasized how much she had liked seeing the children work together, exploring their own history and learning from exploration. She emphasized how well this fitted in the FBE curriculum.

Both Principals expressed their wish to further integrate the lessons into their curriculum. Asha Stevens, founder of the Christian Hillside School, was happy with the fact that arts, music and role play are also part of the series, so that children are not just learning intellectually but also start to feel proud and learn to take different points of view on a topic that is so complicated and sensitive. She made clear she believed the lessons should be part of the Christian Hillside curriculum and Tanja Lenderink from the Netherlands expressed her wish to be part of this in the future.

Former Minister of Education Rita Bourne-Gumbs proposed that a workgroup with individuals from all school boards would be formed to discuss the possibilities of integrating the lesson plan into the curriculum so that all children of Sint Maarten would be able to be exposed to this new method and develop self confidence and pride. Dr. Guadeloupe from USM and Holiday-Davis then agreed on working together to explore the ways in which this could be made possible. (USM)

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Heineken launches new bottle label featuring the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SIMPSON BAY - Heineken® is launching a new packaging and label designed specifically for the island of St. Maarten. The new front label will be found on its iconic 25cl green bottle and commemorates their long standing involvement with St. Maarten's biggest sailing and music event, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The modern and progressive design features the event's new logo which was launched in 2015. By the end of January, almost every refreshing bottle of Heineken® beer consumed on the island will be the new special edition St. Maarten Heineken Regatta bottle.

The new St. Maarten Heineken Regatta packaging is designed to express its 'local relevance' based on Heineken's key brand principles. "We are super excited to be recognized by Heineken globally to have a special front label designed for St. Maarten. I have only seen global events like the UEFA Champions League and the James Bond movies commemorated in this way" says John Leone, Commercial Director at International Liquor & Tobacco Trading NV, official distributor of Heineken beer on St. Maarten. He proudly adds, "The new design is progressive and iconic and will be clearly recognizable on the retailers' shelf".

The new bottle design includes two immediately obvious features: the prominence of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta sail logo and the bold letters of "ST. MAARTEN". The outer packaging is a handy 12-pack carton, featuring the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta grid artwork and features local and international sailors and musicians enjoying the 2016 edition.

To accompany the special edition bottles, International Liquors has also produced a special beer coaster to present the perfect serve for your ice-cold Heineken.

"Packaging design is a vital element of a brand's overall experience. Design generally is crucial for most products as it creates appeal for consumers. I believe that design is the premiumness of this era," says Mark van Itersen, Heineken® Global Design & Concept Manager. "When it comes to packaging, the design is the most tangible point of contact between a brand and consumers - they can literally feel it. We are quite proud of this new bottle label design, created together with the international Heineken brand team and the St. Maarten regional team."

An appreciation of design has always run through HEINEKEN. "Our founder, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, chose to use a green bottle rather than the more typical brown one, commonly used before 1900. That's a century-old example of brand design within HEINEKEN," says Mark.

Sticking to their winning formula, the new St. Maarten Heineken Regatta bottle will contain Premium Heineken Pilsener beer, from Heineken's brewery in the Netherlands.

The special edition St. Maarten Heineken Regatta bottle will be launched across all outlets (bars, restaurants, supermarkets etc.) on the entire island, starting the end of January 2016. Quantities of the special St. Maarten packaging are limited, so pick up this collector's item while supplies last!

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Newton - Herbert scores 45 to lead Lightning to come back win and Lloyd & Fleming lead Thunderz to huge win

SUCKER GARDEN - Week 11 of the Ladies Basketball Championship continued with 3 U16 games and 2 games in the senior division.

In the U16 division, Thunderz faced off against Lightning and won 15-8. Thunderz was led by Aisha Carty with 11 points and Lightning was led by Kayla Robinson with 8 points. In the second game, Thunderz won again versus Learning Unlimited by a score of 16-8. Quillesha Duggins led Thunderz with 14 points while Sarai Hernandez led Learning Unlimited with 6. In the last U16 game, Learning Unlimited came back from being down 10-5 to force overtime at 12-12. Learning Unlimited won the game 14-12 and was led by Aesha Gibson with 5 points. Lighnting was led by Jasmine Edouard with 7 points. 

The first senior game of the day saw Learning Unlimited go up against Thunderz. Thunderz started the game strong and was up 22-5 after the first quarter, 40-20 at the half and continued to expand on their lead and won handily 90-40. Thunderz was led by Joyette Lloyd with 33 points and Claudia Fleming with 25 points. Learning Unlimited was led by Jakisha Brooks with 16 points and Sarai Hernandez with 7 points.

The second game of the afternoon saw Lightning taking on Bush T Remedy. This game was competitive throughout and had Bush T Remedy leading by 2 points at the half, 32-30. Bush T Remedy expanded on their lead with a big third quarter and went up double digits. Lightning fought back with tough defense in the fourth quarter after being down by 9 points with 4 and a half minutes left and ended the game with an 14-2 run to win 63-60. Lightning was led by Jamaiah Newton-Herbert with 45 points and Selah Fleming with 6 points. Bush T Remedy was led by Minelva Maduro with 22 points and supported by Shandria Lake with 15 points and Diasha Ferdinand with 11 points.

The senior division standings are Lightning and Thunderz at 9-2, Bush T Remedy at 2-9 and Learning Unlimited at 1-10.

Games continue this Sunday for senior teams at 3pm as Bush T Remedy take on Learning Unlimited and at 5pm as both #1 teams Thunderz and Lightning meet for a competitive game. Entrance fee is $1 and food and drinks are on sale, so see you next Sunday!!

Game Highlights, pictures, game scores and schedule can be viewed on the Facebook page 'Ladies Basketball Championship'. Highlights and full games can be seen on the Youtube page www.youtube.com/walichibasketball and short highlights can be seen on the Instagrampagewww.instagram.com/ladiesbasketballchampionship.

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Man shot dead at home Monday night. Investigation underway

SUCKER GARDEN - The Detective Department is presently investigating a shooting near the rainbow Supermarket on the Marlin property in Sucker garden. The first call came just after 7.00 p.m. at the Emergency Dispatch informing them of a shooting at that location.

Immediately police patrols, Detectives and paramedics were sent on the scene to investigate what had taken place.

On the scene the investigating officers and paramedics found the male victim laying on the floor in his home shot. He was not showing any signs of life. Paramedics tried to revive the victim without success.

Immediately the area was closed off for Forensics to collect evidence. Detectives on the scene are presently speaking to potential witnesses to piece together what took place and who the person or persons are that are responsible for this shooting.

The identity of the victim has not yet been released. As more information becomes available the media will be informed as the investigation is ongoing. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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UP Commends Police on Recent Successes in Apprehending Dangerous Armed Robbers

PHILIPSBURG – Leader of the United People’s Party (UP) and Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore “Theo” Heyliger as well as the Board of the UP Party would like to commend the men and women of the Sint Maarten Police Force for their successes within the past two weeks that led to several dangerous armed robbers being taken off the streets.

“We have taken note of the recent joint operation between the Gendarmes and our local Police Force which resulted in the apprehension of four suspects who are thought to be responsible for armed robberies committed on both sides of the island.

“These robbers who are in Police custody are suspected of aggressive and violent robberies.  Thanks to the cooperation between both law enforcement agencies of the French and Dutch sides, an end has been brought to this group.  This cooperation between both Police Forces is a result of the Police Cooperation Treaty that exist to fight cross-border crime.

“Everybody has a role to play in fighting crime.  It cannot be left up to the men and women in blue.  They need the help of the community in order to fight crime effectively, and therefore every law-abiding member of the community has to be the eyes and ears of our Police Force if we really want to take out a big bite out of crime.

“At the same time, our men and women in blue also need to have the necessary tools and protections as well for them and their families.  They put their lives on the line every day for our community and for our visitors.  We must ensure that they are taken care of for the sacrifice that they make every day in serving our community – to protect and serve,” UP Party Board said on Sunday. 

An urgent Central Committee meeting requested by UP MPs Franklin Meyers, MP Tamara Leonard and Independent MP Leona Marlin-Romeo with the agenda point: Status of insurance coverage for police officers and their families; has been scheduled for Friday, January 29 at 10.00am with the Minister of Justice.

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BirdsCaribbean Welcomes New U.S.-Cuba Cooperation on the Environment Ahead of 2017 International Meeting

SINT MAARTEN/CUBA - BirdsCaribbean warmly welcomes the news that the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba on November 24, 2015 signed a Joint Statement on Environmental Protection that creates a framework for cooperation on a number of pressing issues, including the protection of endangered species and their habitats, the prevention of wildlife trafficking and the protection of migratory bird species.

The U.S. Department of State will be encouraging agencies such as the U.S. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to work with its Cuban counterparts at the Ministerio de Ciencia Tecnologia y Medio Ambiente (CITMA) on this new arrangement, which is a reflection of the new openness and diplomatic ties between the two nations.

Judith G. Garber, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, responded positively to a letter from BirdsCaribbean’s Executive Director Dr. Lisa Sorenson, urging deeper cooperation to protect Cuba’s bird life and biodiversity.

Coincidentally, the cooperation agreement was signed on the same day that Ms. Garber received Dr. Sorenson’s letter, which notes that the organization’s 21st International Meeting will take place in Cuba in July 2017.

BirdsCaribbean has been working with and supporting research and conservation activities in Cuba for a number of years, to the limited extent allowed, including collaborations with professors and students at the University of Havana.

In her letter, Dr. Sorenson points out that both Cuba and the U.S. are signatories to several important international agreements on environmental protection, including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) and others. There are many shared interests and concerns, and strengthened ties can only benefit both countries’ efforts to protect their environments in the face of many common challenges, including climate change.

Cuba is a treasure trove of biodiversity, including its birds. Three hundred seventy one bird species have been recorded in Cuba, 26 of these are endemic to the island and 30 are considered globally threatened. Cuba is also a crucial stopover point for over 180 Neotropical migratory bird species that fly to and from the U.S. every year, resting and refueling or spending up to nine months wintering in Cuba. BirdsCaribbean regards the trade in caged birds and the loss of habitat from development as two major threats to migratory bird populations and a critical area of conservation focus on the island.

Cuban scientists made a number of presentations at BirdsCaribbean’s 20th International Meeting in Kingston, Jamaica in July 2015, when artist and conservationist Nils Navarro launched his ground-breaking publication, “Endemic Birds of Cuba: A Comprehensive Field Guide.” The U.S.-Cuba agreement will be beneficial to many academics and institutions in the country, opening up a new era in communication and cooperation for the conservation of migratory and threatened endemic birds.

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First Political Panel Discussion for the 2016 Parliamentary Elections Set for January 23

PHILIPSBURG - JCI LIVE Soualiga (Junior Chamber International: Leaders Innovation Vibrant of Equality) Presents the Voice of the Nation Assembly to be held on the 23rd of January 2016 from 7pm at the University of St. Martin (USM).

“We are calling all concerned citizens. This is your unique opportunity to come face to face with the Political parties that want your vote!  This Panel discussion will provide the parties and the public an equal platform to interact.

“All the registered political parties contesting the elections have been invited to be a part of the assembly. Seven (7) parties have confirmed their participation. The moderator will be Amanda Vital Bedminster.

“Do you want to know how these parties intend to fight Poverty in our community? This is your chance, to hear and be heard.  What do you have to lose, it is completely free,” a press release from JCI LIVE Soualiga said on Thursday evening.

The political parties and JCI LIVE Soualiga had a successful meet and greet at Holland house on 19th January, 2016.

Your voice matter, so come on out and make it count. We are the Voice of the Nation! (JCI LIVE Soualiga)

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Stakeholders approached to be part of new Institute for Financial Education

PHILIPSBURG – Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Sarah Wescot-Williams disclosed this week that she is quite pleased to learn from a recent meeting with Central Bank representatives that a proposal made to the President of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten during her tenure as Prime Minister in 2014, is diligently being worked on. 

The proposal centered around the consideration of an institute for financial education on Sint Maarten.  This proposal came about when as Prime Minister she was appraised of plans for renovations of the current Central Bank building on Sint Maarten and the plan to build a new Central Bank building.

With the MP’s first thoughts being the possible opportunities for Sint Maartener’s to benefit and work in the bank, she realized the need for persons to be educated in the areas that theCentral Bank is responsible for.  The MP inquired back then and was told that in Curacao there is a program in place wherein different stakeholders participate. Based on a request for a proposal from the Central Bank, it was established that the institute could be established under the legal form of a foundation consisting of representatives of at least the following entities: the Central Bank, St. Maarten Brokers Association, St. Maarten Bankers Association, the St. Maarten Insurers Association and the Government of Sint Maarten.

The main task of the institute would be to provide financial institutions and individuals with the most relevant education program such as trainings, courses and workshops, both as open enrollments and as customized programs, exams, seminars and conferences on a wide array of financial subjects throughout the year.

This could be achieved through collaboration with University of St. Martin, and the training institute for the Dutch Banking, Insurance and Investment Sector.  Stakeholders have been approached on Sint Maarten and some have already given their consent to be part of this initiative. “Hopefully it wouldn't be too long before this initiative can be realized,” the MP disclosed.

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