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Soualiga News 3 (1620)

UN adviser calls for new mobile-industry partnership to achieve sustainable development

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations adviser on the new 15-year development agenda has urged the mobile industry to work together and develop policy frameworks and technical standards that would ensure no one is left behind.

Speaking at the Mobile World Summit in Barcelona yesterday, David Nabarro, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, called on the mobile industry to “work with Governments and the international community to expand connectivity, lower barriers to access and ensure that tools and applications are developed with vulnerable communities in mind.”

He also urged all attendees to work together to close the digital and gender divide and to collaborate to enable the responsible use of data for humanitarian and development purposes, while protecting individual privacy.

The summit brought more than 400 business leaders, government officials and board members of mobile operators and vendors to explore the socio-economic impact of mobile technologies on individuals, businesses and governments around the world. It focused on actions all stakeholders could take to collectively address the challenge of connecting the billions of currently unconnected individuals to deliver a range of life-enhancing and life-changing services.

Mobile phone technology has already transformed societies around the globe, even in the poorest countries and communities by creating jobs, spurring financial independence, improving education and promoting better health. By 2020, approximately 3.8 billion men and women across the developing world will be connected to the internet via mobile, but 40 per cent of that population will still lack access.

“The digital divide remains a yawning gulf that leaves the poor, those living in rural areas, and a disproportionate number of women – stranded on the wrong side,” Dr. Nabarro said. “Mobiles do not merely contribute to development - they are an important dimension of development,” he added.

He also noted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included a gender equality goal which calls for women’s use of technology to achieve women’s empowerment and advance gender equality. Women still lag behind in access to mobile technology and the internet and especially in their sophistication of use of these tools.

The UN Global Pulse initiative has demonstrated how the data produced by mobile phones can be used to map and curb the spread of hunger and disease, inform crisis response and understand the impacts of climate change. According to the initiative, real-time information to stay ahead of emerging risks, respond more effectively to crises, and keep progress on track is critical to the achievement of the SDGs.

Dr. Nabarro is working with Member States and other relevant stakeholders to galvanize action on implementation of the Agenda. The 2030 Agenda was unanimously adopted by world leaders at a historic UN summit last September and integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.

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Crew member of Cruise Ship seriously beaten by gypsy driver and friends

SUCKER GARDEN - The Detective department is presently investigating a very serious case if ill-treatment. The incident took place around 3.00 a.m. on Friday February 19th in the area of Carolina Bar located on the Soualiga Boulevard in Sucker Garden.

The victim with initials M.W.L. was a crew member of a cruise ship which spent the night docked at the A.C. Wathey Cruise Facilities. The victim wanted to get back to the ship and approached a “Gypsy driver” who charged $20 U.S. dollars for the trip.

When the victim refused to pay that amount he was suddenly attacked by the driver and two of his friends and beaten severely.

As a result of the beaten the victim suffered a very serious ankle fracture. He was taken to the SMMC Medical Center for medical treatment. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Middle Region first stop for free HIV Testing on Saturday

MIDDLE REGION - St. Maarten AIDS Foundation is making Middle Region their first stop for this year’s community outreach with free and confidential HIV testing day on Saturday, February 20 at Sister Marie Laurence School. Testing is open to the public from10:00am to 4:00pm.

Getting tested regularly and knowing your status is one way of reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community while protecting yourself and loved ones from getting the virus that causes Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Testing involves only a small finger prick and results are available within 15 minutes. Tests are anonymous and linked to the person only by a one-time identifier.

A group of volunteers that include doctors in training from American University of the Caribbean, foundation members, supporters and some youth members will be in the area facilitating the testing day event. Spanish translators will also be on hand throughout the day.

The foundation urges everyone to make an effort to get tested and reminds the public that HIV testing is also available at the AIDS Foundation office in Cole Bay.  St. Maarten AIDS Foundation, with its secretariat in the Sun Building across from Tropicana Casino in Cole Bay, is the only entity offering HIV/STI prevention education outreach and care/treatment support for persons living with HIV/ AIDS on the Dutch side of the island.

While the bulk of the foundation’s funding come from community and corporate donations a major donation generator is the annual Stronger Together/Red Ribbon fundraising campaign carried out in collaboration with Scotiabank.  To make a donation, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or make a direct deposit at Scotiabank account numbers 7223 (US dollars) and 7221 (guilders) in the name of “Stronger Together HIV/AIDS Campaign.”

For HIV counselling and tests, visit the secretariat or call 553-2626. Also visit the foundation’s website:www.sxmaidsfoundation.orgfor more information about services.

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La Sucriere offers St. Maarten Heineken Regatta participants the option to have lunches delivered on race days

SIMPSON BAY - The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is always looking for ways to make things easier for the competitors. From quicker registrations, to easier payment methods, the event organizers know that the sailors want everything to run as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, they have teamed up with a new sponsor, La Sucriere, to give the competitors the chance to pre-order lunches and have them delivered to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club the morning of racing.

La Sucriere was recently voted best bakery of 2015 in an island wide "Best of" contest.  Their wide selection of freshly baked pastries and breads will make your mouth water and your taste buds will be dancing for joy. Accessible by both land and by sea, the bakery makes it easy to pick up fresh goodness. There is also a seating area out on the lagoon, allowing you to sit back and relax while you drink some of the best coffee on the island.

For the 2016 regatta, La Sucriere has stepped up to the plate and signed on as an official sponsor of the event. They will be providing the volunteers with both breakfast and lunch selections, all of which will be made ready every morning by 7am, which in itself is no easy task. "We are really thrilled to share the great atmosphere of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta with you. La Sucriere wishes you 'Bon Vent!' as we say in French." commented Emmanuel Julienne Geerts, managing director of La Surcriere.

For the competitors, there is an online registration form that can be filled out via www.heinekenregatta.com/bakery.php. The meals will be delivered to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and can be picked up there between 7:30am and 9:30am. Orders must be paid for in cash at the time of pick up. Hard copy forms will also be handed out at registration, making it very easy for participants to be able to order the sandwiches and quantities they want.

"The fact that they are always on time, always get the order right and offer us a wide variety to serve our volunteers and staff, made it a very easy choice for us when we were looking for another partner. The staff is always friendly and helpful, regardless of how busy they are and to be honest, their food is great!" commented Michelle van der Werff, Regatta Director.

La Sucriere is no stranger to the event or the large quantities that it demands, they have been involved for many years as one of the companies to deliver breakfasts and lunches for the volunteers that work during the regatta. This year they have included that into their sponsorship package which helps the event immensely.  For more information about the event, volunteering or becoming a sponsor, visit the regatta website www.heinekenregatta.com.

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NAGICO Insurances congratulates one of their star athlete

PHILIPSBURG - NAGICO Insurances would like to congratulate our local youth cricketer; Keacy Carty who made history last Sunday on the international stage by scoring a match-winning unbeaten half century, which helped secure the Under-19 Cricket World Cup for West Indies in Bangladesh.

NAGICO says their entire organization; which has been a major supporter of Carty since he started his career in St. Maarten, is thrilled with his victory. “We are very proud of Keacy and his accomplishments, he has not only done himself proud, but has done the entire Country Sint Maarten proud,” Dwayne Elgin; CEO of NAGICO Insurances. “He has proven once again that anything can be accomplished with hard work, dedication and focus and these are all qualities that we saw in Keacy when he started this journey years ago in the beginning of his career and these are the traits we encourage young people in the community to adapt."

Imran McSood Amjad; Chairman of the NAGICO Group and Chairman of Cricket St. Maarten and also one of Carty's mentor was also elated at the news and had high praises for the young cricketer. "This is indeed a proud moment for all of us, especially since we have been following Keacy's career from the onset," McSood said. "His accomplishment comes as no surprise as we know he is destined for great things. Keacy virtually grew up as part of NAGICO Cricket where I and his father Keith are the longest serving members. So we want to extend our heartiest congratulations to him and let him know that Cricket St. Maarten and NAGICO will continue to support him as he continues to strive for success. "

The West Indies produced an outstanding bowling performance to outclass India who made a meagre 145 runs in 45.1 overs. In reply, Keacy Carty scored a masterful 52 not out alongside Keemo Paul (40 not out) as the Windies chased down the total, reaching the target in 49.3 overs. This secured the West Indies claim to the Under 19 World Cup for the first time.

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Super Bug attacking Prisoners

SINT MAARTEN/ANTIGUA – Two inmates have been quarantined suspected of attracting MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), which is resistant to most antibiotics.  The infection destroys tissue and causes large abscesses.

In some cases, if staph enters the bloodstream or attacks the lungs as bacterial pneumonia, and can be fatal.

Both prisoners were taken from the prison to the Antigua Mount St. John’s Medical Centre for treatment.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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Owner requested to remove abandoned boat from Ring Road

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), would like the owner of a boat (see picture) which is located on the Ring Road in Philipsburg, to have this removed as soon as possible.

If the boat is not removed, the Ministry will make arrangements to have it removed at the owner’s expense.

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Thomas Cook reveals impact of terror attacks on bookings

TOURISM & TRAVEL - Terror attacks in Sharm-el Sheikh, Paris and Istanbul hit Thomas Cook bookings in the final quarter of last year, but the operator said its current trading is in line with expectations.

It said 'robust' demand in UK and Northern Europe had offset tough trading conditions in continental Europe and its German airlines.

Overall bookings were down 2% in the three months to the end of December.

It has sold 82% of its winter programme, which is broadly the same as this time last year but at significantly higher prices, it said. Sales to the operator's higher margin differentiated hotels were up and sales to its own-brand hotels increase 24%.

Its summer programme is only 29% sold, 2% behind last year, suggesting some people are putting their holiday plans on hold. With capacity cuts for summer 2016, Thomas Cook bookings are down 5% year on year, but prices are 4% higher.

The operator has pulled 29% of its Turkey programme following the recent terrorist attacks in the expectation of increasing demand for alternative destinations such as Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: "We've made a good start to the year, despite challenging trading conditions.

"Having acted fast to offer our customers a broad range of alternatives to Tunisia and Egypt, we delivered a one per cent increase in revenues in the first quarter.

"It is clear that the awful attacks in Paris and Istanbul impacted confidence, leading some customers to delay booking their holidays. However we've seen clear signs of recovery in recent weeks: customers still have money in their pockets, and want to go on holiday."

Fankhauser said there was evidence that more customers were opting for packages. "In this uncertain geopolitical environment, we are also seeing more of our customers choose a package holiday, valuing the greater security it provides," he added.

"We will continue to focus on delivering our strategy - strengthening our own-brand hotels and flights offering, and investing to ensure that customers who choose Thomas Cook get consistently excellent customer service.

"Thomas Cook is now a significantly stronger and more resilient business, and we are well positioned in a challenging market. We are maintaining our previous guidance for the 2016 financial year, provided that the recent recovery we have seen in customer confidence is sustained."

The operator's stock fell 3% following the release of the first-quarter results. Senior market analyst Connor Campbell from spreadex.com said: "It seems that investors may be concerned about the cancelling of all British flights to Tunisia, suggesting that, whilst Thomas Cook's performance is solid, there could be turmoil ahead in the confusing and chaotic current geopolitical climate." (TravelMole)

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Deher Requests Council of Ministers to pull back the veil of secrecy over the management and operations of all Government owned companies

POINT BLANCHE - Brian Deher, Managing Director of Dock Maarten NV, delivered a presentation to the Council of Ministers on Thursday February 8, 2016, where he officially requested that Government initiate a thorough investigation into the many issues that surround the Harbour Group of Companies, specifically the management decisions taken by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo and his aggressive and – taking into account the history of the case – incomprehensible stance against Dock Maarten’s marina expansion project. 

According to Deher “During Mr. Mingo’s tenure as CEO of the Harbour Group of Companies there have been too many bizarre deals, settlements and issues that question the motives and legalities of the chief executive’s decisions. The evidence that I’ve seen and now presented to the Council of Ministers indicate that there is ample reason for Government to launch a thorough investigation to determine if our Country’s best interests are being compromised.”

During the presentation Deher provided the Council of Ministers with a brief history on the Dock Maarten Project dating back to 1977 when Michel Deher, Dock Maarten’s founder, first took possession of a parcel of property by way of Long Lease from Government to build the Great Bay Marina – now known as Dock Maarten.   A large part of the presentation focused on correspondence over the past two decades between Dock Maarten, Government and The Harbour Group of Companies offering evidence that the Harbour’s CEO and other members of their executive team, including its then managing director, knew about Dock Maarten’s plans from as early as 2002 and they had no objection to said plans.

The evidence that Dock Maarten presented to the Council of Ministers, according to Deher, shed light on the real motives of Mr. Mingo’s aggressive action against Dock Maarten’s marina expansion project.  All correspondence between parties clearly prove that the Harbour Group of Companies had no objection to Dock Maarten’s project until after the Harbour purchased property on the north side of Dock Maarten from Bobby Velasquez. By purchasing long lease land from Bobby Velasquez the Harbour gained control of property on both sides of Dock Maarten and could start the process of “squeezing” it out of business.  Because the Harbour’s new development plans conflicted with Dock Maarten’s plans which were previously approved by Government and acknowledged by the Harbour, Mr. Mingo chose to take Dock Maarten to court three times to try to stop the marina expansion.  The Harbour lost all three court cases against Dock Maarten as Dock Maarten has legal title to all water and land rights and an approved building permit from Government.  Of great interest to Dock Maarten is how the Harbour’s CEO Mark Mingo can justify their legal action against Dock Maarten when they have taken no action against Bobby’s Marina who has been developing and expanding for many years without legal title to any water rights and without the necessary building permits.

During the presentation, Deher once again focused on the real estate deals that the Harbour has recently engaged in– “the large losses incurred by the Harbour in the Zebec settlement and the questionable methods used to acquire property from Bobby Velasquez certainly force one to question the ethics and legalities under which Mr. Mingo manages a company wholly owned by Country St. Maarten.  Under the best case scenario Mr. Mingo made a huge mistake in the Zebec case costing the Harbour over $10 million to settle”.  Deher went on to say that “People certainly can and do make mistakes – it’s just that most of us are held accountable for our mistakes; especially ‘mistakes’ that are as costly and questionable as the ones made by Mr. Mingo”

“The fact that executives of the Harbour are allowed to keep the details of what really transpired hidden from the Government and the people of St. Maarten by using non-disclosure agreements is not only insulting to the honest and hardworking people of this Country but also unheard of in the normal world of business.  How is it possible that the board and management of a company can withhold pertinent information on questionable issues from its shareholders” asked Deher.  

“It’s very clear to me that there are enough issues regarding the Harbour Group of Companies that indicate that there is a well-planned, methodical strategy in use by those that control the Harbour to isolate as much of the Holding’s free cash flow as possible and use it for reasons that may or may not be in the best interest of Country St. Maarten.  One thing is for sure: whatever is going on up there is not transparent and legitimate enough for Mr. Mingo to feel comfortable discussing it; at least not without the protection of non-disclosure agreements.”

Mr. Deher ended Dock Maarten’s presentation to the Council of Ministers by thanking them for their time and attention to this crucial matter and stressed that “we hope that Government will pull back the veil of secrecy over the management and operations of not just the Harbour Group of Companies and its executives but all Government owned companies and thus set a precedent that Country St. Maarten, its people, businesses, and Government operate in a transparent and legal manner that serves the best interests of all of the citizens of our young Country.”

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