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Teenagers jailed for the death of a man, 73, in ‘paedophile hunt’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Five teenagers who attacked a 73-year-old man they had lured to a meeting as part of a ‘paedophile hunt’ have been found guilty of contributing to his death.

The two older boys, aged 17 and 18 at the time, were given one year jail terms, six months suspended. The other three, the youngest of whom was 15, were given suspended sentences and community service.

The sentences were lower than those demanded by the public prosecution department. The teenagers were also ordered to pay the victim’s family damages of €52,500 and €11,000 for his funeral.

The 15-year-old youngster set up the meeting with the victim, a former teacher, via a gay dating site. The man was initially reluctant to meet the boy, saying he was too young. When he did agree to turn up, he was confronted by the group of five teenagers, who beat him up.

He died later in hospital. ‘Taking the law into your own hands is unacceptable,’ the court said in its ruling. ‘These boys played judge and jury, and that is not how our legal system works.’

Several of the youngsters had been involved in other attacks on men they thought were paedophiles, the Telegraaf reported.

(DutchNews)

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The Netherlands remembers its war dead with poetry and personal stories

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands remembered its World War II dead on Tuesday, with commemorations at war memorials nationwide. The day of remembrance culminated in two minutes’ silence on the Dam in central Amsterdam, where king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima laid a wreath.

Other wreaths were laid for members of the resistance, ordinary citizens who died, soldiers and merchant navy sailors. On Dam Square, where about 100 invited guests attended the ceremony, prize winning spoken word artist Amara van der Elst told of descending from two different cultures, and of ‘the wounds beneath the skin that do not heal’.

Comedian and actor André van Duin spoke about growing up in Rotterdam in the aftermath of the World War II and about attending Remembrance Day commemorations at the Homo Monument close to the Dam.

‘The fact that we have had such a monument since 1987, as the first people in the world, is a symbol of our freedom,’ he said. ‘The freedom that everyone can be themselves. Everyone, without others having anything to say about it.’ ‘I too,’ he said, ‘am responsible for passing that freedom on to the next generation.’

(DutchNews)

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Ground-breaking Shark Research Conducted in St. Maarten Waters

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - During the week of April 11, 2021, members from the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), and Beneath the Waves conducted multiple ‘scientific firsts’ as part of the “Shark Shakedown” project. The research expedition was a part of a wider research project into tiger sharks in the region funded by World Wide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. The researchers tagged eleven sharks, including for the first time a female pregnant tiger and endangered Caribbean reef shark in the Dutch Caribbean. The data will provide vital information for conservation strategies not only in St. Maarten, but for the wider Caribbean. 

The expedition lasted five days in which three species of sharks were tagged, including tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier)Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi)and nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) all ranging from sub-adults to adults. 

Participants received hands-on training with experts from Beneath the Waves in preparation for the upcoming expedition to the Saba Bank in August 2021. The goal of this upcoming expedition is to determine whether the Saba Bank is a breeding area for tiger sharks in the Eastern Caribbean. The high-definition ultrasound technology the team used was created by E. I. Medical Imaging and pioneered by collaborator Dr. James Sulikowski, of Arizona State University. This technology has successfully been used to identify maturity state and the stage of pregnancy in various shark species, a first for shark science in the region.   

The scientists successfully confirmed early pregnancy stage in a large female tiger shark, as well as placed a satellite tag on the shark during the workup process. Using satellite tracking over the next few months, the scientists hope to confirm evidence of Sint Maarten being a breeding location for these globally threatened animals. In another shark tagging ‘first’, Beneath the Waves’ Chief Scientist, Dr. Austin Gallagher, placed the first camera tag on a tiger shark in the Dutch Caribbean. The team successfully recovered the camera package during the expedition, and the animal has already shown promising results regarding shark behavior in the region.  

Both the satellite tag and camera tag have shown that these tiger sharks prefer to travel in the area between St. Maarten and St. Barths; however, these are only the first detections. No assumptions can be made yet regarding the movement of these animals. 

The information gained from this research will provide a better understanding of the importance of both the status of sharks in Sint Maarten’s territorial waters and in the Yarari Sanctuary and the role these ecosystems play in the life-cycle of tiger sharks in the wider Caribbean region. Tiger sharks are currently categorized as Near-Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature while Caribbean reef sharks have very recently been upgraded to Endangered. Sharks play key roles in maintaining the balance within local and regional marine ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity and therefore their protection is crucial.

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Dutch border police arrested more people smugglers in 2020

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch border police arrested 124 people smugglers in 2020, a 40% increase on 2019 when 89 were apprehended, figures requested by the Telegraaf have shown.

‘Most traffickers were arrested in the vicinity of the refugee centre at Ter Apel where some were dropping people off on the doorstep,’ spokesman Robert van Kapel told the paper.

Over a third of the arrests took place on the border with Germany. The police did not speculate on why the centre was so popular as a destination, but one reason could be that Ter Apel is becoming better known through social media.

‘No matter how small Ter Apel is you can rest assured that many people in Syria, Iraq and Morocco know where it is. It is the ultimate goal for many, and their first port of call to start asylum procedures,’ border team leader Bert Bruins said.

In the past months activity around the centre increased, Bruins said, and two to three traffickers were being caught each week.

People sell their homes and all their possessions to make the trip, often in very dangerous circumstances, Bruins said. ‘Package deals to the Netherlands are sold on every street corner in Syria in a manner of speaking and can cost up to €20,000 per person.’

Bruins said combating people smuggling is a priority but that it cannot be proven in every case. ‘We carry out spot checks around Ter Apel and the border and stop cars we think are unusual, a car from Münich carrying four men, or a hire car with three girls in it, for example.

We check their papers, people’s reason for being here. You very often know if the story is true or not, but you will have to prove your suspicions to make an arrest.’

In February the force announced it was going to use drones equipped with innovative technology such as infra-red cameras to detect people who could be hiding within vehicles, as well as honing in to search specific areas in detail using the images.

(DutchNews)

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18th Annual Female Leadership Conference in Curaçao. Female Leaders Leading by Example

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Sharon Katushabe in Uganda, Dr. Birgitte Tan in California, USA, and Nina Den Heyer in Bonaire are the three keynote speakers starting the 18th Annual Female Leadership Conference in Curaçao with the topicFemale Leaders Leading by Example’ on Saturday May 29, 2021 in Curaçao.

This 18th Annual Female Leadership Conference is important for the woman combining work, family and life in general; the young ambitious female student aiming to have a successful career; business owners, HR’s, everyone interested in knowing the value of female leaders in organizations. Each participant must leave the conference with valuable information, encouraged and empowered, knowing that she also can make it and that she can choose her support.

Again it is a challenging road to reach the 18th conference that will again be on a professional level, with interesting in-between other information with again the unique opportunity for participants to specifically build on good relationships.

There will be this year again the recognition of an Outstanding Woman, a role model from the Caribbean, older than 60 years and who during her professional life did what benefitted other women.

And for the second year there also will be the presentation of the Margaret Star the recognition to continue to motivate a young ambitious person.

Following resolutions during the past conferences attention will be given again during this 18th conference on what makes professional women strong and successful.

The conference website is under reconstruction so for more information and updates please visit us on facebook: ‘About Female Leadership’.

For registration and more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or app 5999 561 2818.

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New war memorial forces us to take a good, hard look at ourselves

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A modest mirror at one of the entrances to Amsterdam’s Vondelpark will be formally unveiled on May 4, when the Dutch remember those who died in World War II.

The mirror is in the same spot as a sign saying the park was forbidden to the city’s Jews during the Nazi occupation. It aims to encouraging people question their own actions when it comes to discrimination today.

Niels van Deuren (33) does not consider himself an activist or a political animal, just an ordinary citizen who sprang into action on hearing the king’s Remembrance Day speech on May 4 last year.

‘Sobibor started at the Vondelpark. With a sign saying ‘No Jews allowed’, Willem Alexander told a house-bound audience and the handful of people gathered on Dam square.

‘When Willem-Alexander said those words I suddenly realised that a large part of the population stood by and did nothing when the Jews were being persecuted. It meant the Nazis could do what they wanted and every time it got worse and more absurd.

That is how it happens, in small steps until people are stripped of their human rights. People get used to it and it’s normalised. We need to be aware of that process,’ Van Deuren told DutchNews.

With true entrepreneurial spirit – Van Deuren invests in small start-ups in Colombia – he set about creating a memorial to the dead and a reminder to the living. ‘I thought of it and wanted to get it done immediately,’ he said.

He quickly discarded the idea of a big work of art which would have involved a long and bureaucratic trek past numerous local council doors, opting instead for the simpler option of a plaque and a mirror.

The inspiration for the mirror stemmed from a suggestion made last year by D66 and ChristenUnie councillors to fit mirrors to memorials, such as the Holocaust Names monument and the National Slavery monument, Van Deuren said.

’It coincided with my own idea of reflection, of people taking a good look at themselves and taking a good, hard look. Do you act when someone is discriminated against or victimised because of the colour of their skin?’

Armed with his idea Van Deuren approached Amsterdam local council, offering to pay for the memorial himself to speed things up. He found that not only were they willing to contribute financially but that others, such as the Comité 4 en 5 mei, which organises the annual remembrance events, were happy to help.

‘The whole process took about nine months from the first email to the council to the installation, which to my thinking was a pretty long time. But I was actually praised for the fact it was so quick!,’ Van Deuren said.

The title of the memorial ‘Sobibor – Wat doe jij’ is a reference to a poem by resistance fighter Gerrit van der Veen who led the attack on the building that housed the city’s population register in March 1943.

Destroying the register would make it more difficult for the Germans to find people but Van der Veen had reckoned without Dutch bureaucracy. A duplicate of the register was housed in the Hague.

Following a failed attempt to spring his friends from jail Van der Veen was caught and executed by the Germans in 1944. The first stanza of the poem reads : ‘Wat doe jij, nu je land wordt getrapt en geknecht, Nu het bloedt uit ontelbare wonden.

Wat doe jij, nu je volk wordt ontmand en ontrecht, Door de zwarte en feldgraue honden?’ (And you, do you stand by, Now your country is being kicked and cowed, Bleeding from countless cuts, Do you stand by, Now your people is being emasculated, stripped of its rights, By the black and feldgraue dogs?).

Today’s politicians

Gerrit van der Veen didn’t look away but confronted injustice where he saw it and his poem illustrates the significance of the mirror perfectly, Van Deuren said. Does he feel politicians should hold up a mirror to themselves as well?

‘People like Wilders and Baudet are frequently criticised by other politicians,’ he said. ‘There are parties which look away, for instance, you only have to look at the childcare allowance scandal, but fortunately they are being held accountable by the other parties.

I think it’s people in general who should be more critical if politicians – or a neighbour – makes a racist or discriminatory remark.’ A memorial service will be held at the site of the mirror at the Van Eeghenstraat entrance to the Vondelpark on May 4. It will feature the story of Harriet Goldwasser who was forbidden to play in the park as a little girl.

(DutchNews)

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American extradited to NL in 17-year-old cold case murder investigation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 60-year-old American man has been extradited to the Netherlands in connection with the murder of a prostitute in Amsterdam’s Bijlmerpark 17 years ago.

The man was sent back to the Netherlands last week and was remanded in custody on Friday. Yvette Looijs was killed in November 2003 and her body dumped in the park in the south east of the city.

Looijs, who was 42, was a drug addict and lived a ‘transient’ life in the district of Zuidoost, where she also traded sex for money, police say. The suspect, known as Matthew and from New York, is thought to have been her last client and is said to have told other people that he had beaten her up and left her in the park.

One witness at the time said Matthew had a ‘lot of money in his pockets’. Efforts by a television crime show a year later failed to locate him. In 2017, detectives working on another cold case came across ‘new information’ which led to the suspect.

He returned to the US after living in the Netherlands for a few years. Police say in a statement they are pleased the man has been extradited but that many questions still remain about what happened in the park.

‘We would ask everyone to have a good think and see if they know any more about the case,’ the statement said. ‘All information is welcome, even after 17 years.’

(DutchNews)

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3D printed home in Eindhoven welcomes tenants in European first

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Tenants have now moved into Europe’s first fully 3D printed house, which has been built out of layers of concrete in Eindhoven. The house, a detached single-storey home with two bedrooms, is designed to look like a boulder to fit in with the natural surroundings, while at the same time demonstrating the versatility of 3D printing.

The property is the first of five homes planned by the construction firm Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix in Bosrijk. The builder forms part of Project Milestone which also includes real estate developer Vesteda, Eindhoven University of Technology and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos.

Thanks to extra thick insulation and a connection to the city heating system, the home is highly comfortable and energy efficient. And, after overcoming initial problems with the curves of the walls, printed homes can now be built quickly and so help reduce the housing shortage, Eindhoven housing chief Yasin Torunoglu said.

‘With the 3D-printed home, we’re now setting the tone for the future: the rapid realization of affordable homes with control over the shape of your own house. I’m proud that this promising innovation has a place in our city and, more importantly, that it provides people with an affordable home,’ Torunoglu said.

New tenants Elize Lutz, 70, and Harrie Dekkers, 67, retired shopkeepers from Amsterdam, received their digital key – an app allowing them to open the front door of their two-bedroom bungalow at the press of a button – on Thursday.

‘It is beautiful,’ said Lutz. ‘It has the feel of a bunker – it feels safe,’ Dekkers told the Guardian. The house consists of 24 concrete elements which were printed layer by layer at the printing plant in Eindhoven.

The elements were transported by truck to the building site and placed on a foundation. The house was then provided with a roof and window frames before the finishing touches were applied.

CEO Bas Huysmans of Saint Gobain Weber Benelux said that the construction challenges that had been overcome meant ‘a very special home’ had been realised. ‘I think that we’ll soon be able to proudly add the Milestone houses to the list of iconic projects in Eindhoven,’ Huysmans said.

(DutchNews)

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Despite the disputes and mistrust, ‘there is hope of a new coalition’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Party leaders and MPs can press ahead with forming a new cabinet but should recognise that working on a way out of the coronavirus crisis must have priority, the man charged with assessing the prospects for forming a new coalition government said on Friday.

Herman Tjeenk Willink said he had a ‘sense of unease’ at the lack of trust between the various parties in parliament. However, he said, in his talks with party leaders they had shown themselves to be ‘sufficiently willing’ to change the current culture in The Hague, in which the process of ‘administration’ had come to have the upper hand.

Tjeenk Willink had been asked to find out if there are sufficient grounds to start talks on building a new coalition, following growing mistrust between the parties in the wake of the childcare benefit tax office scandal and a string of damaging leaks and revelations.

Despite these issues, he said willingness to tackle the problems and to work restore trust between parliament and citizens has increased in recent weeks. The priority now is to start working on the transition out of the coronavirus crisis, he said, and this is something the current caretaker government is technically unable to do.

A new coalition agreement, he said, must focus on a few main issues and this means that choices will have to be made. Apart from economic recovery, inequality in education, problems in the labour market and climate change were mentioned by party leaders as primary issues for the next government.

MPs will now go on to elect a new ‘informateur’ who will look into potential coalitions. At least four parties will be needed to form a new government with a majority in the lower house of parliament.

Most of the main parties but not those on the far right, have not ruled out joining a coalition led by Mark Rutte.

(DutchNews)

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NPOWER CALLS ON THE NGO COMMUNITY TO REGISTER FOR CAPACITY STRENGTHENING WORKSHOPS

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Foresee Foundation would like to inform the general public that NPOwer's May to July Workshops are now open for registration online for all non-profits. The initial 9 workshops available now cover a range of topics on a very basic and practical level.

Very critical competencies like Project Management, having SMART Objectives and Report Writing are workshops that every board member should want to freshen up on or learn a new perspective on. Grant Writing with an application form will provide participants with the understanding and confidence to apply.

How good is a project is it has no money? Register for topics like Basic Accounting, working with a Budget and Insurance for NGOs to make sure your organization is always crossing the T's and dotting the I's financially.

Organizations should be organized so consider the beginners level Google Suite for NGOs and if you're organization is interested in any garden projects join the 8-week course provided by and at the ECO St Maarten Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Unless specified all workshops will be held at our central training location which is the Office of R4CR/Samenwerkende Fondsen, located at Illidge Road #60, Unit 1.1. Ofcourse due to the covid19 pandemic the maximum participants per workshop is 12 persons (maximum 2 persons per organization). All participants are required to adhere to the general standard COVID-19 safety requirements such as wearing a face mask, social distancing and sanitization.

Organizations registered in the NPOwer Online Registry (see www.NPOwersxm.com) can have 2 participants registered for free. Each additional participant pays a non-refundable fee of $5 p/hr.

Space is limited which means attendance needs to be taken seriously, so, NPOwer is forced to enforce a 'no-show deposit' which is an advanced payment that will be required for each participant. This payment is a deposit that will be fully reimbursed after the participant has attended and completed the workshop. With current limitations we do not want registrants not showing up while other interested NGOs had to be turned away. We want to show respect to our funder who finances this project and the presenters who take a lot of time to prepare these courses for our NGO community.

NPOwer is a capacity strengthening program executed by the Foresee Foundation and funded by Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben - Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Saba.

Registration is open and your organization can register at www.bit.ly/npowerworkshops

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