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United States, France, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands host Trilateral Conference to combat transnational crime in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Working in coordination with the government of Curaçao, the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South) hosted their annual Trilateral Conference on Curaçao from Tuesday, October 19 to Thursday, October 21.

This multinational collaboration between the United States, France, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands increases regional stability and security by reducing the flow of drugs and degrading and dismantling Transnational Criminal Organizations.

Currently, twenty-two Partner Nations provide counter-narcotics support for JIATF-South operations, resulting in multi-ton seizures of illicit drugs and hundreds of arrests and underscoring a strong global commitment to counter drug trafficking, combat transnational crime, and promote the rule of law.

The United States Air Force is proud to provide support for JIATF-South's operations through the U.S. Forward Operating Location on Curaçao.

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UPDATED: Government to open condolence book for Vivian Philips

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Monday, October 25, at 10:00 AM, a condolence-memorial book will be opened to the public in connection with the passing of civil servant Vivian Philips. 

The condolence-memorial book will be open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Government Administration Building on Pond Island until Friday, November 12. Civil servants can sign the condolence book at any time throughout the day.

Vivian Philips worked as a government security guard and receptionist at the Department of Facility Services. She was a quiet, kind hearted and helpful person who always had good stories to recount of her past years working for government. She will be dearly missed by all her colleagues, family and friends.

Condolence Book Photo

ARCHIVED - THURSDAY OCT.21 - SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - It is with great sadness that the Government of Sint Maarten received news concerning the passing of civil servant Vivian Philips on Monday, October 18.

Ms. Philips served as a government security guard and receptionist at various locations for the past 32 years. Ms. Philips was very loving, always asking her colleagues about their loved ones as they passed her.

Colleagues of Ms. Philips describe her as a quiet, kind-hearted and helpful person who always had good stories to recount of her past years working for government.

“On behalf of the Council of Ministers (Ed COM), we extend our deepest condolences to the late Vivian Philips’ son Natalian Philips, family and friends. The Department of Facility Services has lost a dedicated and committed colleague whose impact will remain for years to come," stated Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.

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New Covid sub variant is in the Netherlands, but remains minor: RIVM

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A new sub variant of the Delta coronavirus strain, currently being monitored in the UK, has been in the Netherlands for the past 10 weeks, public health institute RIVM has confirmed.

The AY.4.2 sub strain accounts for 0.1% to 0.2% of cases, and the fact it has not increased since it was first identified is an indication that it is not a highly infectious variant, a spokesman told broadcaster NOS.

Nor has it been listed as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation.

Although the new sub species is not a game changer, virologist Marion Koopmans told NOS, it may have an impact. ‘I think we should take it into account in our approach to dealing with the virus in the winter,’ she said.

According to some experts, it may be 10% to 15% more infectious than the current Delta strain. Morocco has halted all flights to the Netherlands, Germany and Britain because of the coronavirus pandemic and according to one local news provider, a new variant of coronavirus is giving cause for concern.

DutchNews has contacted the Moroccan authorities to try to establish why the air travel ban has been introduced.

EU warning

Meanwhile, eight of the 12 Dutch provinces are once again red on the official risk map drawn up by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Only Noord Brabant, Noord Holland, Groningen and Drenthe remain amber on the map, which has four colour codes: green, amber, red and dark red.

The number of positive coronavirus tests has been mounting in the Netherlands since the beginning of October, a week after social distancing and most other coronavirus measures were scrapped.

(DutchNews)

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$4000 raised at 6th Annual Pink Sunset Sail in support of Breast Cancer Awareness

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Aqua Mania Adventures in collaboration with the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations are proud to have hosted their 6th Annual Pink Sunset Sail to raise awareness for Breast Cancer in our community, the group said in a media statement on Thursday. This 6thPink Sunset Sail took place on Saturday October 2nd, 2021.

“The Pink Sunset Sail raised funds through ticket sales and a raffle. Proceeds went to the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations to help continue their quest to raise Breast Cancer Awareness on the island of St. Maarten for research, screenings, awareness activities, projects, and education. The Foundations have an action-packed schedule this year and Aqua Mania’s Pink Sunset Sail is indeed privileged to be the first event.

“As St Maarten continues to recover and rebuild after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and navigate the challenges related to the Covid 19 pandemic, early detection and self-health awareness is important.

“Far too many victims of Breast Cancer, not all of them battling the disease, but the many children, husbands, friends, and family endure the hardships and aftermaths of treatment. We want to focus on early detection and self-awareness. Being breast aware, feel it, find it, fight it and making that call to action to “GET CHECKED!” is the Breast Cancer Awareness message that the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations continues to send.

“The Pink Sunset Sails have garnered positive feedback like repeat vacationers are booking their vacation dates so that they can participate in the event and this year we had several first-time participants. It is the best way Aqua Mania knows how, to contribute to the local Foundations who used the funds to support the community with free screenings, awareness activities and events and education.

“For 6 years in a row the event has grown. The Pink Sunset Sails start with a “Pink Mixer” from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. The PINK Mixer is sponsored cocktail party with a full bar from IslandSpirits NV. Tashiann Brown Brand Manager is happy to continue to support the Pink Sunset Sail for a worthy cause in aiding the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations to heighten Breast Cancer Awareness on the island. The Pink mixer was a great success giving the participants a chance to mingle following strict Covid safety guidelines and restrictions by wearing their masks and hand sanitating.

“The Pink Sunset Sail departed at 5.30pm from the marina at Simpson Bay Resort where Aqua Mania Adventures is located. Lambada and Tango, 65’ sailing catamarans headed out for a coastal sail into the sunset, allowing 100 people to be part of this unique event.

“Tickets were on for sale were $50per person, which included a unique Pink T-shirt with this year’s theme “Be the Anchor Get Checked!”, an open bar, snacks and a wonderful sail along St. Maarten’s golden coastline, sightseeing, sipping cocktails and watching the green flash.

“With the assistance of local businesses, Aqua Mania Adventures organized a raffle on board the boats as an additional fundraising opportunity which increased the total proceeds for the Foundations and participants got the chance to win fabulous prizes.

“The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances of survival. During the month of October, the Positive Foundation along with its partners including the SMMC, the medical practitioners on St. Maarten, The American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), Collective Preventive Services (CPS), the Ministry of VSA and sponsors, will provide free screening opportunities, 100 free mammograms for uninsured persons, free breast self-examination workshops, in person presentation on breast cancer awareness and free educational literature at the various events. These are just some of the ways the Positive Foundation plans to educate our community on the importance of early detection, risk factors and the symptoms and signs of breast cancer.  We are very grateful that businesses like Aqua Mania Adventures are onboard to assist us with our cause” says Positive Foundation President Shelly Alphonso.

“The Elektralyets Foundation has been collaborating with the Positive Foundation for over 10 years. The Elektralyets main goal is to coordinate the big Breast Cancer Awareness Events throughout the month of October and to unite women and men of St. Maarten, alerting them about our cause. This has been a developing process over the years and each year the Elektralyets Foundation seeks out new sponsors and organizations to collaboration for the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. Saving lives on the island of St. Maarten and reaching more persons each year is why we are also happy to collaborate with Aqua Mania Adventures who has become a great partner with innovative and creative ideas.” President of the Elektralyets Foundation Mercedes "Elektra" van der Waals-Wyatt said.

“The Positive, Elektralyets Foundations would like to thank Aqua Mania Adventures and all the businesses that contributed raffle prizes, snacks and food to the event. We would also like to give a heartfelt thanks you to Island Spirits NV, Amsterdam Liquor & Cheese

La Patrona, Replay Sports Bar, Avantika Captain D’s also for hosting the Pink Mixer. The Foundations would also like to remind everyone to GET CHECKED!”

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Health chief does not expect winter curfews despite coronavirus case rise

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – New shop and school closures, or a curfew, are not likely to be imposed in the Netherlands this winter, despite the surge in new coronavirus cases, Jaap van Dissel, head of the government’s Outbreak Management Team, has told the AD in an interview.

Thanks to vaccination, the Netherlands is in a ‘different situation’ to last year and the Delta variant of the virus is being made ‘less damaging’ the public health chief said.

Hospital admissions may be mounting but the relationship between infections and hospitalisation is different because of the high vaccination rate, Van Dissel said.

Some 81% of the over-12s in the Netherlands are now fully vaccinated. Youngsters account for a large proportion of new cases and ‘that is relatively beneficial for the number of hospital admissions,’ he said.

‘But much also depends on the speed of the spread among non-vaccinated groups and in regions where fewer people have been vaccinated,’ he told the paper.

‘We are going to learn a lot in the coming weeks and our prognoses are becoming more precise. At the end of October, we will look at everything again, ahead of the new decisions at the beginning of November.’

Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge are due to hold a press conference on November 5. De Jonge has already said that the coronavirus pass system for cafes and clubs is likely to remain in place.

The Netherlands abandoned most coronavirus measures on September 25, including social distancing. Since then, the number of infections has soared, rising 44% in the past week alone.

Forecasts

Volkskrant science correspondent Maarten Keulemans said the current situation is difficult to assess, even though hospital admissions are at the upper end of earlier forecasts.

‘If you look at the map of the Netherlands, you see that we are mainly dealing with places which have a low vaccination rate – Staphorst, but also the Betuwe, the Bible Belt, places in Zeeland such as Tholen. And the big cities.’

This, Keulemans said, means no one yet knows if we are at the ‘start of a new wave or a series of hotspots in areas with a low vaccination rate’.

(DutchNews)

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Over 1,100 children of childcare benefit victims taken into care

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Over 1,100 children whose parents were caught up in the childcare benefit scandal were taken into care between 2015 and 2020, figures from national statistics agency CBS have shown.

The affair, which saw thousands of parents falsely accused of fraud by the tax office, goes back to 2004 but registration of such data only started in 2015 with the introduction of a new youth care law.

The figures were collated at the behest of the justice ministry following MPs’ questions.

It is not clear if all the children were taken into care as a direct result of the accusations levelled at the families, many of which faced marriage break ups or lost their jobs and homes as a result of the tax office demands.

More research into the cases is needed to determine this, the CBS said. The affair led to the fall of the government as well as calls for a more humane application of the rules in the Netherlands.

Victims were recently invited to have their say to the coalition party talks to make that point but many families are still waiting for compensation. MPs have called on the government to explain the figures.

‘Behind the CBS note is an unbelievable amount of suffering,’ they said in a note to ministers.

(DutchNews)

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ODM: Remain Vigilant and Prepared. Hurricane Season Not Yet Over

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Even though tropical storm activity has subsided during the past couple of weeks, that does not mean the hurricane season is over, Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Monday.

There is still six weeks to go as the season runs through November 30.

Residents and businesses are advised to remain vigilant and prepared, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) which falls under the Fire Department (Ministry of General Affairs) headed by Fire Chief/National Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, said on Monday.

The remaining storm name for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is: Wanda.

Continue to monitor local weather reports issued by the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten for advisories related to any adverse weather.

The community is urged to learn more about hurricane hazards and how to prepare for a storm/hurricane strike by visiting the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.”

Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com or visit their social media page Facebook.com/sxmweather/

Remember, it only takes one hurricane to make it a bad season. Remain vigilant and prepared!

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Caribbean book popular at Dubai Expo, Plastered in Pretty by N.C. Marks

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - How to stand out at the world’s fair in 2021? Perhaps by topping your nation’s “achievements” with works of culture.

At the Dubai Expo, which opened on October 1, 2021, “Visitors to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Pavilion got EXCITED when they saw the cover of N C Marks Plastered in Pretty!” posted events planner Latoya DeRoche-John on Facebook (10.10.21).

The pop culture novel became an instant must-have. “Oooooh so nice… pretty… Beautiful,” were the expressions of the visitors. “We shared with them that the cover actually won an Award for its beauty!” said DeRoche-John.

With “Invest SVG” at the helm, SVG is among the near 200 countries showcasing their culture, science, architecture, tourism, investment prospects, and other areas of national excellence at the Expo.

The large and richly promoted international exhibition runs until March 31, 2022. “At the Expo in Dubai, global exposure for Plastered in Pretty and Vincentian literature is simply phenomenal,” said N.C. Marks, author of Plastered in Pretty.

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St. Martin Day Essay Competition by ONE SXM Association

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The ONE SXM Association is pleased to announce the St. Martin Day essay competition for secondary school students and other youth between ages 15 and 18, said educator Rhoda Arrindell.

Aptly titled “What Does a United St. Martin Mean to You?” the essay competition’s aim is to get youngsters’ thoughts on how they see both parts or south and north of St. Martin united. All essays must be written in English and should not be longer than 500 words, said Dr. Arrindell.

The competition is open to all teenagers—whether in school or not—from either half of the island. Essay submissions must be mailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Prizes will be awarded for the top three essays, said Arrindell.

The submission deadline is Wednesday, November 10, and winners will be announced on the ONE SXM radio program on Saturday, November 13 on My 88.3 FM.

The ONE SXM Association looks forward to reading interesting essays and wishes all participants success in the competition, said Arrindell.

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Some 75% of hospital coronavirus patients are not vaccinated: RIVM

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Just 17% of patients ending up in hospital intensive care units with coronavirus in September were fully vaccinated, the public health institute RIVM says in a new report.

At the same time, 25% of hospital admissions were down to people who had been vaccinated, the RIVM said. The report focuses on 1369 people who were admitted to hospital in September and up to October 4, and whose vaccination status was known at the time.

The figures means the ‘likelihood of ending up in an IC ward is 33 times lower for someone who has been fully vaccinated than people who have not had their jabs,’ the RIVM said.

Some 80% of the Dutch population over the age of 12 is now fully vaccinated and the figures show that vaccination has a very major impact on the likelihood of becoming seriously ill with the virus.

In total, vaccination reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital by 95% and an IC admission by 97%. ‘Despite full vaccination, people may still… test positive for COVID-19, and some will be admitted to hospital,’ the RIVM said.

Older people (and vulnerable people) are more likely to be hospitalised.

Family members

The RIVM has also published other research which shows coronavirus vaccines also protect against transmission of the Delta variant of the virus. The research covers August and September, by which time the Delta variant was dominant in the Netherlands and is based on contact tracing data.

The research shows that fully vaccinated people who do become infected are 63% less likely to transmit the virus to unvaccinated housemates than infected people who have not been vaccinated.

At the same time, the effectiveness of full vaccination against transmission to fully vaccinated household contacts was 40%, on top of the direct protection which vaccination offers against infection.

The researchers said earlier that vaccines are 73% effective at stopping transmission of the Alpha variant to unvaccinated household contacts.

(DutchNews)

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