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Soualiga Newsday Features (1157)

More young Dutch adults admit to being addicted to social media

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Almost three in 10 youngsters aged 18 to 25 say they are addicted to social media and keep their phones with them at all times, according to new research by the national statistics office CBS.

This is a sharp rise on three years ago, when 19% of young adults said they could not stop constantly checking their phones. Young adults are also spending an increasing amount of time using social media.

Some 29% say they are busy with social media websites for three to five hours a day and nearly 9% admitting to spending five to 10 hours checking their messages.

Some 34% of youngsters say they spend so much time on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat because they are afraid of missing something.

One in four say they because restless if they cannot read messages and 37% say being away from an internet connection is a major nuisance. (DutchNews)

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Bar and cafe owners plan ‘mega claim’ if smoking room ban is not delayed

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Bar and cafe owners say they will present the government with a multi-million-euro damages claim if it presses ahead with plans to close all smoking rooms within two years.

The hospitality industry lobby group KHN says a transition period of a minimum of five years is necessary to earn back the investment in expensive ventilation systems and separate rooms.

A survey of members showed the average bill for a smoking room has been €12,500 and without a longer transition period, many bar owners will not be compensated for the cost, chairman Robèr Willemsen told the Telegraaf.

In February appeal court judges ruled cafes and bars should close their special smoking rooms, which they set up when the ban on smoking was introduced in 2008. The case was brought by Clean Air Nederland which argued that by allowing special smoking rooms, the Netherlands was breaking the terms of an agreement with the World Health Organisation.

In that agreement, the Netherlands said it would take steps to stop people being exposed to tobacco smoke in ‘indoor public places’. The court has now ruled this also applies to smoking rooms in cafes and bars.

The KHN said in April that the ban on smoking rooms will lead to increased noise and other problems for locals because four in 10 cafe and bar owners have no designated outdoor area where smokers could stand. (DutchNews)

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Cash no longer king for the Dutch as electronic payments take over

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch are continuing to use less and less cash when buying goods and services in the Netherlands, new figures from payment association Betaalvereniging Nederland show.

In total, 41.4% of payments last year were made in cash, down from 45% a year earlier, the association said. And 40% of payments made using direct debit cards were contactless, over double the 2016 figure.

Online shoppers are still most likely to use their computer to make purchases, but phone payments are increasingly popular, and now account for over 13% of online sales.

Cash is being phased out in shops and on trams and buses too. Amsterdam’s public transport system has been cash free since earlier this year, and various shops, such as Marqt and the Vlaamse Broodhuis, no longer accept coins or notes.

A report by the European central bank last November said the Dutch are the least likely of all eurozone Europeans to use cash and that Netherlands is the only country in the eurozone where cashless payments outstrip notes and coins. (DutchNews)

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Snooping Amsterdam civil servants broke privacy laws with Facebook research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An analysis of the Facebook networks of trouble-making youngsters by the Amsterdam city authorities constituted a breach of privacy and should have been reported to privacy monitoring body AP, the NRC reports.

The paper found that in 2015, Amsterdam civil servants decided to build up a picture of the networks of youngsters who hung around on the streets and caused a nuisance in Amsterdam Zuid.

By looking at their networks the authorities thought they would gain a better understanding of this group. After an initial investigation by a data company the networks of around 1,200 people were analysed resulting in information the authorities did not have before, for instance about contacts between groups in different parts of the city.

However, in a reaction to the paper’s investigation the Autoriteits Persoonsgegevens (AP), which monitors infringements of privacy laws, said that the authorities had a duty to register their activities with the AP and inform the youngsters themselves as well, the paper writes.

The AP would then have been able to check whether the data collected were used in a responsible manner. A spokesman for the Amsterdam authorities told the paper they were ‘talking to the AP about the pilot and about whether or not actions are needed.’

According to new European privacy legislation comes into force on May 25, companies and institutions no longer have to register the processing of personal data with a supervisory body but unauthorised use of the data will still carry fines running into millions of euros, the NRC said. (DutchNews)

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Court of Guardianship and UNICEF host three-day training

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Court of Guardianship of St. Maarten and UNICEF will be hosting a three-day Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) training on Friday May 18th, Monday 21st, and Tuesday 22nd from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm at the University of St. Maarten (USM).

The CPiE training stems from the post-disaster needs assessments UNICEF conducted shortly after Hurricane Irma in September and October last year.

The Child Protection assessment findings revealed the need for child protection to be mainstreamed and strengthened across the disaster management system in preparation for possible future disasters and the need to increase the understanding of Child Protection in Emergencies among key stakeholders in disaster response.

The objectives of the training are as follows:

  1. To introduce the key concepts on protecting children from future disasters
  2. To explore the global Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPMS) and situate them in the context of Sint Maarten 
  3. The development of a concrete action plan to improve children’s protection through their emergency preparedness by each participant/participating institution or department.

The Child Protection Working Group’s Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Emergencies handbook will also be made available to all the participants during the training.

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Tzu Chi invites public to triple celebration, to donate 1,000 bags of rice

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation will be paying homage to mothers, celebrating Tzu Chi Global’s 52nd anniversary and marking Buddha’s birthday at its annual triple celebration and the foundation is inviting the public to attend the long-awaited event. 

A major highlight of the event will be Tzu Chi’s donation of 1,000 bags of ‘Love Rice” to pre-selected recipient in the community as part of its ongoing efforts to help alleviate the burden on needy households in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Love Rice was donated to St. Maarten by Tzu Chi Founder Master Cheng Yen in an effort to relieve the strain on the community post hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

The triple celebration will open at 4:00pm with a reception on May 26, 2018 at the LB Scott Sports Auditorium. The program will start at 5:00pm. 

The Mother’s Day, Buddha’s Birthday and Global Tzu Chi 52nd Anniversary triple event is one of the standard activities on Tzu Chi’s calendar annually. 

 Tzu Chi said in a press release that the event is not a religious one and persons of all faiths are welcomed to join. “Great love

 is for everybody and has no boundaries.  All religions and believes are welcome to celebrate together the meaning of great love,” Tzu Chi said in its release. 

The program for the event will include the showing of a Mother’s Day presentation; the washing of the feet of mothers in a show of gratitude for their selflessness; special entertaining performances; inspirational speeches, a special ceremony to mark Buddha’s Birthday, the sharing from Tzu Chi recipient and the donation of 1,000 bags of rice to pre-selected recipients. 

The Tzu Chi Foundation and its volunteers look forward to welcoming the public to its triple celebration event on May 26.

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Dutch government stops using Kaspersky anti-virus software, warns of security risk

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cabinet has decided to stop using anti-virus software produced by Russian company Kaspersky Lab, in order to guarantee national security, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has told MPs.

In addition, companies which work with the defence ministry and other vital services are also being advised to stop using the software, the minister said.

Kaspersky is required by Russian law to support the Russian security services and Russia has an offensive cyber programme which also targets the Netherlands, Grapperhaus said.

‘This combination of factors has led the government to conclude that there is a risk of digital espionage and sabotage against the government and vital services,’ the minister said.

According to the Volkskrant, Kaspersky software is installed on some 400 million computers worldwide. (DutchNews)

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Minister to draw up rules for use of smoke-free electronic cigarettes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis is drawing up rules to cover the use of electronic cigarettes which heat tobacco but don’t make smoke.

There are currently no restrictions on the use of inhalers such as the Philip Morris IQOS because they don’t fall under the current tobacco laws. The minister is planning to change this, which would mean the inhalers would be subject to an age limit, a ban on advertising and new packaging.

‘These sorts of products are treated as a clever alternative to ordinary cigarettes,’ Blokhuis told MPs in a briefing. But users are still inhaling cancer-causing ingredients and other dangerous substances, the minister said.

The minister said he plans to take action against the inhalers because he does not want people to get the idea using them is a sensible option. ‘The only sensible option is not smoking,’ he said. (DutchNews)

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STB hosts journalist from the Netherlands and Belguim

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is currently hosting a group press trip consisting of journalists from the Netherlands and Belgium representing the publications: ‘De Telegraaf’, ‘Reishonger’, ‘We Are Travellers’ as well as ‘KNACK’.

These journalists are on St. Maarten to see the progress made, as well as to receive updates from various stakeholders including Princess Juliana International Airport and Port St. Maarten.

In addition, the journalists will partake in various activities on the Dutch and French side to get a sense of what there is to do on the island. The journalists will visit the art gallery of Max Phelipa ‘Art in the Garden’ and Tess Verheij ‘Art Craft Café’.

They will also experience the zipline at Rainforest Adventures, take a tour at Topper’s Rhum Distillery as well as take a sunset sail by Aquamania amongst other activities.

At the welcome dinner organized for the journalists, Acting Minister of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications) Cornelius de Weever was present, alongside Interim Head of Tourism May-Ling Chun and members from Port St. Maarten, Princess Juliana International Airport and St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

Students of the National Institute of Arts gave a heartwarming performance at the welcome dinner that show cased the local dance and attire.

“Our Tourism product has drastically changed and we have the opportunity to rebuild St. Maarten phase by phase better and stronger and public relations is a high priority in this entire process” says May-Ling Chun.

It is imperative that the consumer markets in the Netherlands and Belgium know that there is progress being made on the island after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, and most importantly that there are ample tourism activities and hotels that are open and ready to welcome tourists again.

Therefore, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau will continuously work on public relations to ensure that the trade and consumer markets are aware that St. Maarten is open for business and that they receive updates about the progress of the island as it happens.

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SMDF & Dutch Humanitarian Aid Agency Cordaid Partner for Communities

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Expanding its efforts to directly support local communities, St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) is forging a new partnership with Dutch humanitarian aid agency Cordaid.

The partnership, will see SMDF and Cordaid providing financing for various projects throughout St. Maarten. “SMDF and Cordaid’s relationship began almost immediately after the passing of hurricane Irma and over the past few months we have been working jointly to create contextualized projects that will benefit St. Maarten,” said SMDF Program and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks.

In the days after hurricane Irma, Cordaid provided much needed tarpaulins for residents, using community councils to reach some 200 households. In working with these councils, Cordaid saw the possibilities for community centered disaster preparedness projects.

Like Cordaid, SMDF also sees the intrinsic value of community organizations. “In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, we all saw the importance of these organizations as they became the avenues to get supplies to residents,” said Brooks.

She further explained that while SMDF and Cordaid are both hoping that the island will be spared this hurricane season, both organizations are preparing for a worst-case scenario where community mobilization will be extremely important.

Following Cordaid’s global commitment to implementing via local partnerships, Cordaid is partnering with SMDF as the local implementing agency. The partnership, which was described as a win-win-win, will be carried out over a three-month period.

“Through this project, Cordaid will continue its mission to respond to humanitarian crises as they arise, SMDF will be able to implement community improvement projects and a number of communities will see improvements to their environments,” said Cordaid humanitarian aid Program Manager Dilanga Manuweera.

The projects, all of which were proposed by the community organizations of these areas, will begin this coming week. The projects will include repairs to the Dutch Quarter Community Center, installing of a generator at Belvedere Community Center, placement of Crisis Containers in South Reward and the drilling of a well in Ebenezer.

“Cordaid prioritizes working through local organizations to enable community-driven development and as such, we want to empower these local communities to be vehicles of St. Maarten’s recovery and future resilience,” said Manuweera.

This resiliency will be the focus this coming weekend when Cordaid and SMDF will host disaster preparedness workshops for community-based organizations. The workshops, which will be held at the University of St. Martin (USM), will provide valuable tools for risk assessment, community mobilization and disaster preparedness and response.

“While some question the value of these organizations, SMDF sees their significance and we choose to invest in these institutions to strengthen their capacities,” continued Brooks.

With a packed week ahead, Cordaid and SMDF are forging the path for inclusive, collaborative development on St. Maarten. “Having Dilanga here for the kick-off shows Cordaid’s commitment to these projects and to St. Maarten,” stated Brooks.

Though this is a new partnership, Brooks and Manuweera see it growing in the future as the two organizations are planning to continue programming with Cordaid’s Resilience department to execute larger community driven projects in the near future.

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