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University cleared to sack lecturer who spread conspiracy theories

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A court in Groningen has agreed that Groningen University may sack a lecturer who reportedly spread conspiracy theorists during lessons.

Tjeerd Andringa was suspended last year after university paper Ukrant published an article on how he tried convince students of his ‘alternative truths’. The article led to his course on ‘Systems View on Life’ being cancelled.

UKrant spoke to 12 students about Andringa’s lessons and studied feedback and correspondence about the course.

The students referred to his anti-Semitic ideas about the ‘dominant position of Jews’ and his belief in conspiracy theories about the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001.

Others spoke of his belief that vaccines cause autism and the lack of room for other opinions in discussion. The university said it wanted to sack Andringa because his teaching methods did not meet its academic standards.

‘Andringa has his views on his teaching methods. We also have our views,’ a spokesman told RTV Noord. ‘We couldn’t reach an agreement which is why we asked the courts to decide.’

Andringa said after the verdict that he had no comment to make, by mutual consent.

(DutchNews)

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Cancer cases up slightly as the population ages

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – In total 124,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in the Netherlands last year, up a marginal 1,000 on 2021, according to preliminary new figures from registration agency IKNL.

The slight rise is down both population growth and to the aging population, which is clear to see in the increase in skin and prostate cancer diagnoses, the IKNL said.

Some 23,300 patients were diagnosed with skin cancer, 15,800 with breast cancer, 14,600 with prostate cancer, 14,600 with lung cancer and 12,000 with colon cancer.

The sharp rise in skin cancer cases (excluding the 60,000 people found to have a basal cell carcinoma) is down too much exposure to the sun 20 to 30 years ago,’ the IKNL said.

The number of colon cancer cases is down slightly and this maybe due to the introduction of a screening programme in 2014 which has led to the removal of possibly cancerous polyps.

Meanwhile, addiction research institute Trimbos said on Friday that just four in 10 people are aware that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer and only one third know that one alcoholic drink a day increases the risk of developing breast cancer

‘Many people are not aware of the link between alcohol and cancer, and it is important to change this,’ Trimbos researcher Carmen Voogt said. ‘People have the right to be informed about the consequences of drinking alcohol.’

(DutchNews)

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Stamp of approval? Row about quality certificate for coffeeshops

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Cannabis sellers are developing a national quality certification for coffee shops to improve their relationship with local government and the law.

The PCN, a trade union which represents shop owners, told members at a spring meeting about plans to develop the certificate – which would be independently run and accredited.

Hein Schafrat, spokesman for the PCN board said it would be a logical step in ‘professionalising’ the sector. ‘We want to show that our members are trustworthy partners in a transparent way,’ he said in a statement.

‘Not just for clients…Our partners are also trustworthy partners for the people who run councils where their shops are based, and for their neighbourhoods.’ The business is concerned that a crackdown on criminality will affect their trade and that a trial of regulated cannabis growing – voted through government in 2019 – has stalled before it has even started.

Coffee shops, which sell cannabis for on and off-site consumption, currently operate in a legal grey area and buy from criminals, since commercial growing is illegal. ‘The PCN board sees a quality assurance mark as the next logical step in commercialising the coffee shop sector,’ said Schafrat at the meeting in Woerden.

Standards

The aim of the certification would be to set training standards for employees, stop under-age access to cannabis and potentially enable more product quality control said Gerlof Roubos, director of Pragma Advies consultancy.

He cited the examples of an anti-squatting certification in empty building management and the Fair Produce certification to guarantee working standards in the (non-hallucinogenic) mushroom growing sector.

A certification would include regular inspections, training, and an independent standards body. ‘With the empty buildings, there was a negative image, the sector wanted to avoid legislation and wanted protection for people living in the buildings,’ he said.

‘Now, most importantly, government property organisations, housing corporations and municipalities and that people require that quality certificate to manage their property.

‘Right now, people read the papers and think they don’t want to have coffee shops. But with self-regulation, you could build both quality and trust.’

Image

Wilco Sijm, who started a quality certification in Haarlem, said that it meant a better and more professional relationship between the city council and the 16 coffee shops. ‘I was cynical – I thought, would they just be checking the toilets?’ he told Dutch News.

‘But it’s a legal framework, we have our own testing facility which allows us to sift out non-quality produce in the spirit of trying to raise standards and improve the image of the industry.

We are seen as a more equal partner with the council.’ But some are less enthusiastic. Simone van Breda, chair of another trade union the BCD, said it had already spent two years developing its own quality standards, in collaboration with the Dutch government.

Others pointed out that there wasn’t much point to a certification of coffee shops if cannabis itself was not properly legal and regulated. ‘In the ideal situation, you have both certified cannabis and certified coffee shops,’ said BCD contributor Hester Kooistra.

August van Loor, director of the Adviesburo Drugs in Amsterdam, said that since cannabis is not fully legal in the Netherlands, a quality mark would ‘raise more questions than it solves…and double the schizophrenia.’

(DutchNews)

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Doxing should be punishable by law but policing is tricky, say MPS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A majority of MPs are expected to support new legislation that will make publishing a person’s address online so they can be intimidated a crime, but questions remain about how the measure can be policed.

At the moment the online publication of a private address, known as doxing, is not an offence. The need for the new legislation, which will be discussed in parliament on Thursday, is not in dispute but questions remain about its effectiveness, broadcaster NOS reported.

CDA MPs are in favour but want to know how intent to intimidate can be be proven. D66 MPs said the the effect of new legislation would be like ‘mopping up while the tap is running’ because names and addresses are still readily available via the chamber of commerce registry.

Land registry Kadaster is also open to anyone wanting the data of home owners. D66 MP Joost Sneller said only certain professionals, such as real estate agents, should be able to access the Kadaster.

‘And we must make it more difficult to find out the addresses of, for example, judges, lawyers, journalists and scientists,’ he told the broadcaster. Questions will also be asked about the penalty for doxing.

The VVD has said a a year in jail doesn’t go far enough while the SGP want a higher penalty for divulging the addresses of politicians. Policing the new law will also mean more police capacity, which is under pressure as it is, MPs said.

(DutchNews)

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MPs call for a curb on international students, more focus on Dutch

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – International students may be important to the education system and economy, but the balance has been ‘distorted’ by the shortage of housing, overfull lecture theatres and the amount of additional help they need, education minister Robbert Dijkraaf said on Tuesday.

MPs were debating the need to limit international student numbers, following calls for action from universities in the bigger Dutch cities. Foreign students account for 40% of first years in the current academic year.

In particular, MPs are concerned about the shift towards English language teaching and the impact this is having on standards of Dutch. ‘We are in favor of targeted internationalisation but not uncontrolled internationalisation,’ VVD MP Hatte van der Woude said.

Independent MP Pieter Omtzigt said that the Netherlands is educating ‘the middle class of Bulgaria, Romania and Italy’, and criticised the lack of Dutch skills among lecturers.

‘Is this what we should be financing?’ he said, pointing out that in law, Dutch as the language of instruction may only be deviated from in exceptional cases. ‘This not being enforced,’ he said.

Recruitment

Dijkgraaf has already urged universities to stop recruiting abroad, and they have largely done this, the minister said in answer to MPs’ questions. Next week, MPs will vote on a string of motions calling for a reduction in international student numbers and more emphasis on the Dutch language.

Dijkgraaf will publish his own detailed plans to tackle the situation in March. The minister said earlier the measures will include ‘language and the possible introduction of fixed numbers’ for non-Dutch courses’, Dijkgraaf said.

‘The availability of higher education for Dutch students is, and will remain, an important principle,’ he said. This summer, a number of universities called on foreign students not to come unless they had organised accommodation in advance.

(DutchNews)

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Inflation falls for fourth month in a row as energy measures take effect

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The annual rate of inflation fell again to 7.6% in January, national statistics agency CBS said in a flash estimate on Wednesday.

The estimate is based on incomplete data but shows inflation is down two percentage points on December, as the impact of the government’s energy price ceiling starts to take effect.

The price of energy, including fuel, fell marginally last month, the CBS said. Food was slightly more expensive, with prices up 14.5% year on year, compared with 14% in December.

The complete index will be published on 9 February. Inflation reached a high of 14.5% in September last year.

Calculated according to European methods, inflation was 8.4% in January, down from 11% in December.

The European calculation does not take the cost of social housing into account.

(DutchNews)

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Royal Family visits Bonaire

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The royal party arrived in Bonaire on Friday afternoon, January 27 where they were welcomed by Island Governor Edison Rijna. On Saturday morning, January 28 the governor received the party at his official residence, together with members of the island council and island executive. 

The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange visited the slave huts at Witte Pan, which are reminders of the history of slavery in Bonaire. Following this they traveled along the west coast and attended Nos Zjilea at Cultural Park Mangazina di Rei, an event which highlights Bonaire’s cultural and historical heritage.

The royal party viewed an exhibition on the island’s history. Young people told them about their local area, and a family of four generations baked bread in a stone oven and primary school children performed with their learning orchestra. This was followed by a lunch with Bonaire residents at Arawak. 

In the afternoon the royal party watched a windsurfing demonstration in Sorobon Bay. Bonaire is reputed for its good windsurfing and the talented windsurfers it produces. The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange then spoke to junior rangers from the STINAPA national park foundation about coastal nature conservation, especially of the mangroves which protect the coast. The royal party toured the bay and mangroves by boat.

The visit to Bonaire will drew to a close in Kralendijk with a trip to Taste of Bonaire, a cultural market with local products, culinary offerings and musical performances.

ROYAL BON slave huts bonaire 6

Courtesy RVD

ROYAL BON seniors food bonaire 7

Courtesy RVD

ROYAL BON cultural mkt bonaire 15

Courtesy ANP

 

 

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KMar notices effect of increase in travellers Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The increase in the number of travellers traveling to and from the Caribbean Netherlands increased significantly in 2022 compared to the previous year. This was reflected in the activities of the Marechaussee, among other things, in an increase in the number of persons denied entry to the Caribbean Netherlands, but also in the number of registered aliens who stayed too long within the Caribbean Netherlands.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee, KMar) is responsible for border control. The KMar checks, among other things, for what purpose travellers come to the islands and whether they have not stayed too long within the Caribbean Netherlands at departure. When travellers, who are not residents on Saba, St. Eustatius or Bonaire visit one of these islands, the purpose and duration of the trip, among others, are examined upon entry. In doing so, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee checks that a traveller does not intend to stay longer than legally permitted.

It is also checked whether people are coming to the Caribbean Netherlands with a lawful purpose, or whether there is a risk of them being forced into illegal employment or crime. With the increase in the number of arriving passengers, the number of persons denied entry to the Caribbean Netherlands also increased; where 68 persons were denied entry in 2021, this occurred a total of 115 times in 2022.

The KMar furthermore checks upon entry whether one has sufficient financial means to support oneself during a stay. If a person cannot plausibly demonstrate this, conditions may be attached to the admission, such as, for example, an obligation to report to the Immigration Department of the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN). In 2021, 121 persons were admitted under special conditions; in 2022, it was more than twice as many, with 256 people.

For departing passengers, the KMar checks that they have not overstayed and thus exceeded the free period. This free term, which determines how long someone may stay as a tourist within the Caribbean Netherlands, differs per nationality.

For example, people with US or Dutch nationality are allowed to stay 180 days in a 365-day period. Depending on the nationality, a free period may also be 90 days for every 180 days or a visa requirement may apply. If the free period is violated, a fine may be issued. The amount of the fine depends on the number of days by which the free period is exceeded.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee stresses the importance of good preparation when travelling and encourages everyone to carefully research the conditions of entry of their destination.

More information about travelling to the Caribbean Netherlands and the free period per nationality can be found at www.rijksdienstcn.com.

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Practical part of driving exams now possible in motor vehicles with automatic transmission

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Pursuant to AB 2022, no. 67 Lbham tot wijziging van het Landsbesluit inrichting rijexamens, with an effective date of February 3, 2023, it is now possible for driver’s license candidates to take the practical part of the driving exam in a motor vehicle with an automatic or manual transmission.

Previously, the practical part of the driving exam was only possible with a motor vehicle with a manual transmission.

With this additional possibility of conducting, the practical part of the driving exam in a motor vehicle with an automatic transmission, also comes a restriction placed on your driver’s license.

This restriction indicates that the holder of the driver’s license may only drive a motor vehicle with an automatic transmission.

In other words, if you pass the practical part of the driving exam in a motor vehicle with an automatic transmission you are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle with a manual transmission.

Applicants for the practical part of the driving exam must indicate, when making an appointment at the Civil Registry, the type of motor vehicle they wish to take the practical exam in, manual or automatic transmission.

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Minister Lambriex returns from FCCA PAMAC Cruise Virgin Voyages conference

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication, the honourable Arthur Lambriex, returned from a successful five-day conference during which he received valuable feedback from international industry partners regarding further development of St. Maarten's tourism product.

Minister Lambriex led a delegation from St. Maarten to attend the 2023 Florida Caribbean Cruise Association FCCA PAMAC Cruise Virgin Voyages Experience, January 25-29. The goal of the FCCA conference is to help industry partners around the globe understand the Cruise Tourism business, learn about challenges and opportunities in the industry and find ways to grow their tourism business further.

During the five-day event, Minister Lambriex held essential discussions with key cruise and airline industry partners to further his goal of improving tourism in St. Maarten. "My delegation and I held a crucial meeting with the Puerto Rico Tourism Authority regarding jointly working with major airlines to reintroduce daily flights between St. Maarten and Puerto Rico, which I believe will benefit St. Maarten and the region when it comes to creating more options for airlifts from the US mainland to our shores," said Minister Lambriex. He said both destinations are "very excited" to get connectivity back between our two countries. The Minister said a joint approach would be an easier way to bring this to possible airlines that can provide such airlift.

Minister Lambriex also attended an introduction and team-building session with the FCCA team, their strategic partners, and tourism industry counterparts from neighbouring Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Curacao, Martinique, St Kitts & Nevis and Aruba.

"This was an important forum in which St. Maarten's stance, ideas, and concerns were well received and understood. We agreed that collectively we would work to increase cruise calls to our Port and have ships staying longer in Port, with extra emphasis on our off-season months to have some continuity throughout the year," explained Minister Lambriex.

The Minister also met with Virgin Atlantic Voyages to discuss bringing the Virgin brand to St. Maarten. Another important highlight of Minister Lambriex's trip was a meeting with Royal Caribbean, Carnival Group of Companies, and Disney, during which they discussed future business developments for our island. Port St. Maarten will issue a press release within the coming days with more details of the meeting.

According to Minister Lambriex, one critical feedback from the Cruise Companies was challenges experienced concerning fuel consumption and conversion power. He said, "This led to discussions about shore side plug-in possibilities, which would allow fuel savings. It would be a greener day in Port, making it even more attractive."

The Minister said Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) had been a path many lines are considering as a cleaner alternative. In this regard, St. Maarten can possibly find ways to invest in a refuelling station for LNG and have the LNG system tied into the local grid. This approach could produce sufficient alternative power to allow ship plug-ins at more competitive market rates. In return, any additional energy produced could reduce the usage of current generators at NV GEBE that consume a lot of fuel at a not-so-competitive rate."

Minister Lambriex considered his trip an overall success and said the visits to Key West and Bimini highlighted many ideas and provided vital information, which will be helpful to St. Maarten as we improve our tourism product. "This is not just helpful for cruise tourism but also facilities and diversification of possible future stores, attractions, and services," said Minister Lambriex.

He said he looks forward to a follow-up zoom meeting with Royal Caribbean Cruise line concerning New Market Place in Philipsburg and continuing discussions on the proposed Water Park and Boutique Hotel, which are near final decisions. The Minister said he intends to see these projects through to fruition, as they are all great initiatives for all parties involved.

PAMAC is the Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council of the FCCA. The organization routinely hosts hundreds of representatives of FCCA's exclusive membership program and other stakeholders in the cruise and tourism industry to brainstorm on improvements and innovations in the industry.

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