Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ongoing Student Strikes Turn into Riots

All over the country high school students continue their strikes which have turned into riots and left a trail of destruction. Besides throwing eggs at passing bikers and drivers, there were other forms of vandalism. The police had to intervene in many places. They used teargas and batons and made many arrests. In Tilburg three teachers were beaten by students, and in Leiden the riots also took on an anti-Semitic slant with students chanting slogans such as ‘Jews, Jews’ and ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas’, etc.

Dutch Complain More about Pestering

Dutch employees complain more about pestering, violence and intimidation at their workplace than in other parts of Europe. For example, two-thirds of doctors and nurses regularly experience harassment of some kind. Caregivers and teachers complain about improper behavior toward them. These are the findings in a report sent by the Minister of Social Affairs (Sociale Zaken) to Parliament (Tweede Kamer) a few days ago. Whereas on the whole, the Netherlands scores favorably compared to other European countries regarding work conditions, Dutch employees experience more bad manners.

Investigation of Foreign Influences in Dutch Mosques

A majority in Parliament thinks that the National Intelligence and Security Department (de Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst - AIVD) should investigate the risks of foreign funding of Dutch mosques. Parliament is concerned about the foreign influences on Islamic prayer houses. According to them the saying ‘he who pays, determines’ has to be considered seriously. As an example they refer to the Essalam mosque in Rotterdam, where it is alleged that some of the committee members are connected with the Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Soldiers Sentenced to Community Service

Two soldiers accused of locking up a female colleague in a chest on the frigate HMS ‘Tjerk Hiddes’ have been sentenced conditionally to thirty hours of community service. A superior who stood by and watched without intervening was sentenced to twenty hours. The conditional punishments came as a result of an extensive investigation of rapes, assaults and maltreatments which allegedly took place regularly on board the ship. In the end only the incident with the chest remained. The punishments are more lenient then originally demanded by the Ministry of Justice. According to the court the soldiers involved had been unfairly accused of various abuses. Therefore the sentences will be served only if they commit any additional crimes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Overcrowded Asylum Centers

The number of people seeking asylum is on the rise again, but the shelters are already so overcrowded with asylum seekers covered by the ‘general pardon’, that it is becoming impossible to admit additional people. In the past six years many asylum centers were closed because of decreasing numbers. Since 2005 the number has been rising again, but that is not the problem. The problem is that people already in the centers are not leaving. Asylum seekers who are covered by the ‘general pardon’ can stay in the center until they find permanent housing. In addition, people who are waiting for a verdict can stay in the center until a decision has been made.

Chairman of Euthanasia Club Arrested after Death of Woman

The chairman of the Foundation for Voluntary Life - Stichting Vrijwillig Leven (SVL) has been arrested for assisting in granting the wish to die of an 80-year old woman in a nursing home in Almelo. Her son and the chairman were among six people arrested shortly after her death. The vice-chairman of the foundation said that the woman had been seriously ill and lost her will to live. ‘The nursing home refused to cooperate in any way in ending her life and is to blame for the arrest of our chairman and other people who were directly involved’. He accused them of not respecting the wishes of the woman and her family. He added: ‘This case of euthanasia does not differ from other cases in which we assisted, therefore the formal attitude of this nursing home is exceptional. We have not encountered this before. Our chairman is being exposed as a criminal.’

Fine for Incorrect Registration in the Municipality

Local authorities will be able to fine people who refuse to submit their correct address or other personal information or who do not register with the municipality at all. Next year the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior will propose a bill regulating this requirement. Citizens will be required to submit correct and up to date personal information, for example a change of address or a birth. Some people purposely give a wrong address in order to receive social benefits or rent subsidy. Until now local authorities did not have the means to enforce this, but next year they might be able to catch people who are trying to cheat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Student Strike Started Friendly but Became Rowdy

A few days ago thousands of high school students in more than 15 cities demonstrated against the compulsory norm of 1,040 lesson-hours a year. Many students were arrested during the massive, spontaneous protests. In many cases the demonstrations became very rowdy, involving vandalism, destruction, incitement, and insulting. Police put an end to the demonstrations by using batons. ‘The demonstration started friendly but became more and more rowdy,’ said a spokesman of the police ‘therefore we acted more harshly’.

Many More Youngsters Drink Themselves Into a Coma

‘Coma-sloshing’ is a fast-growing problem among Dutch youth. This year 240 children were brought to hospital after losing consciousness due to too much alcohol, whereas in 2000 there were only 50. These are the results of an investigation carried out by the Dutch television program Zembla. Children aged 12-15 are being hospitalized with alcohol poisoning, most of them in a coma. ‘Coma-sloshing’ appears everywhere in the Netherlands, and in all social classes. Alcohol abuse among youngsters has been increasing for a number of years. They start drinking at a younger age and also drink much more.

The Queen is Cross

Queen Beatrix does not agree with the way her ancestors Willem I, II and III are being portrayed in the book ‘For the Throne No-one is Born Unpunished’ (‘Voor de troon wordt niemand ongestraft geboren’) by historians Dorine Hermans and DaniĆ«la Hooghiemstra. This was reported a few days ago by the Government Information Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (RVD)). According to the Queen’s spokesperson the authors have very selectively used documents from the Royal House archives which portray the kings in a less than positive way. This is the first time the Queen has expressed her disapproval of the use of sources from the Royal House archives. Among others things the authors wrote that Willem I got rich at the expense of others, that Willem II was blackmailed due to his homo- or bisexuality and that Willem III was a madman.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Citizens of Tilburg Protest against Shelter for Addicted Prostitutes

The citizens of Tilburg are protesting the municipality’s plan to house five addicted prostitutes in a former parsonage in a quiet neighborhood, close to a primary school, kindergarten, a community center and a home for the elderly. When the plan was presented to the neighborhood council, one of the residents attacked the city councilor and pulled her hair.

Student Union Complains about Excessive Police Violence

The police have been accused of using ‘excessive’ violence against students. The students were demonstrating against the Ministry of Education’s decision by which high school students should have 1,040 lesson hours a year. The union lodged the complaint after students complained about bruises and damage to personal effects, caused by the police.

Police Officers on Patrol Avoid Problem Youth

A recently published report of the Program Police and Science states that police officers avoid having contact with problem youth when on patrol. It is not that they look away in cases of criminal behavior or when the youngsters cause trouble, but they avoid unnecessary confrontations.
Despite the fact that both the youngsters and the police have a negative image of one another, contact between the two groups is often without any problems. ‘Maybe this is because they avoid each other, that prevents unnecessary frustration’ according to one of the investigators.

Street Could be Named for Member of SS

A street may been named for the former SS-member and notorious Nazi collaborator Tinus Osendarp (1916-2002), also an Olympic athlete, and a former inhabitant of Delft. His name has appeared on a list with 22 other persons selected by members of the local council, which was sent to the Commission for Street Names. When confronted with the fact that Osendarp was a member of the Sicherheitsdienst and the SS, who hunted down resistance fighters, the council members admitted that they had not done any background research, but immediately wrote a letter to the Commission requesting that his name be removed from the list.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dutch Increasingly Afraid of Muslims

There is an increasing fear of Muslims and Islam among the Dutch, as is true in the European Union in general. This is the conclusion of the European Network against Racism (ENAR) in a recently published report about 2006. According to the ENAR some forms of racism are on the increase in Europe. The researchers mentioned particularly Islamophobia, fear of Islam. Threre is also increased racist violence.

Ministry of Defense Being Sued by 200 Veterans

Almost 200 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, sueing the Ministry of Defense because they feel that the treatment they have received following their mission was severely deficient. They are demanding compensation from the Ministry of Defense for the damage they suffered. These veterans served in Bosnia, Lebanon, Iraq and even in the Dutch East Indies.

Almost 300 Dancers Caught With Drugs

Last weekend the police arrested 280 people at the Qlimax dance party in Arnhem for possession of drugs. Ecstasy pills, cocaine and GHB, among others, were seized. According to police 25,000 people came to the party, which was conducted peacefully.

Moroccan Parents Travel on City Buses to Control Troublemakers

When the nuisance caused by youths on city buses in Ede last summer reached a limit, a volunteer organization of Moroccan immigrants appointed six ‘bus fathers’ to travel on the buses in order to keep order. It is hoped that their presence will make ‘their boys’ behave. When there is a problem they intervene. The boys, mainly of Moroccan descent, swear, intimidate, and spit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

23% Increase in Supermarket Robberies

Supermarkets are very often the target of criminals. In the first nine months of this year the number of attacks on supermarkets rose by 23 percent. Violence during raids has also increased, according to the Council of Dutch Retail Trade.

Thirteen NGOs Criticize Dutch Human Rights Policy

In a report recently released by 13 NGOs at the request of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, it transpires that The Netherlands itself does not abide by international agreements on human rights. The NGOs say that although the Netherlands ascribes to itself a leading role regarding human rights in the world, it is not practicing what it preaches on a national level. For example, The Netherlands is against establishing a national institute for human rights.

Free Play in Holland for Art-Thieves, Forgers and Dealers in Illegal Antiquities

Because fighting art-crime has a very low priority, offenders often escape prosecution. This is stated in a recently published report. An investigation carried out at the request of the Ministry of Justice shows that tracking art-criminality in the Netherlands is only ‘mediocre’. Since there is no central registration of stolen and lost objects of art in the Netherlands, it is even possible that those objects often turn up on the legal market.

Ministry of Justice Wants to Publicize List of ‘Most Wanted’

The chief public prosecutor in Middelburg wants to publicize a list with information on escaped criminals and suspects of serious crimes. He noted that, although privacy is very important in Dutch society, there is now a willingness to give up some of that privacy if it might prevent further crime by tracking down criminals.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dutch Government wants an End to Illegal Drinking Clubs for Youth

The Dutch Government will no longer tolerate illegal drinking clubs for youth. There are approximately 1,500 of these clubs in the Netherlands. The clubs must have a catering license in order to sell alcohol, but this is often overlooked. There will now be stricter enforcement of this law, as well as stricter observation of the building regulations which are often violated. This is one of the measures that several ministers want to enforce to fight alcohol abuse, especially among youngsters.

Insufficient Medical Attention in Intensive Care Units in Small Hospitals

A National Intensive Care Evaluation has shown that patients hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit of a small hospital have less chance to survive than in a big hospital. Nova (Dutch television program) recently dedicated a program to this topic, during which it became clear that these hospitals usually keep their patients in the Intensive Care Unit too long. They would be better served in larger hospitals, which are better equipped, have greater knowledge and more specialized personnel. Two hundred fifty people die unnecessarily every year due to inferior medical attention in the smaller hospitals.

Campaign against Possession of Weapons among Youngsters

On Monday morning the Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin, together with a group of youngsters, started the campaign ‘I do not carry a weapon’ at a discotheque in Bunnik, with the purpose of reducing possession of weapons among youngsters. The youth say that carrying a gun makes them feel more secure. But the Ministry of Justice says that a weapon offers false safety. Research shows that youngsters are most likely to fall victim to the possession of weapons at school or when they go out at night. A poll among high school pupils showed that more than 10 percent of the pupils have seen fellow pupils in their class sometimes carrying a weapon. About 5% of the pupils say that they sometimes take weapons to school. About 20% sometimes take a weapon when they go out at night.

Pregnant Teenagers Most Often Choose Abortion

A recently published report by the Rutgers Nisso Group showed that pregnant teenagers are more likely to choose to have an abortion than to carry through the pregnancy. In 2006 there were a total of 5,400 pregnant teenagers, of whom 3,600 (66%) chose to terminate the pregnancy by abortion.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Province Investigates Honor Killings

The Province of North Holland is making a hundred thousand Euro available for the investigation into honor killings and methods to fight this custom. This was proposed by Songi Akkaya (Labor Party) in the provincial council. She said that the national and local authorities cannot fight the problem by themselves.

Only in Greece More Women Smoke than in Netherlands

In the 30 OECD countries, Greece is the only country where more women (46%) smoke than in The Netherlands (26%). This is among the findings of the report Health at a Glance.

Immigrants to The Netherlands discriminated against in (the) Job-Market.

In looking for employment, immigrants to The Netherlands have to cope with difficulties which not only reflect a lower education level, less work experience or a poor command of the Dutch language. According to the 'Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau” (SCP) - the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Office, this indicates discrimination against the immigrants.

Sixty percent of immigrants of Moroccan descent who were rejected for a job last year, suspect, are certain that discrimination was involved. Among immigrants of Turkish descent this number was 49%, and immigrants from Suriname and the Antilles 17%. werk

Great Concern about Defective Railway Points.

A significant number of the points in the Dutch railway system do not meet minimal safety requirements. Of the 6,000 points in the system 1,800 are below the safety requirements which were drawn up by the management of Prorail itself.

The problem with the points is a result of lack of proper maintenance and has been known to Prorail since beginning of 2005. Prorail states now that it is out of the question that there is 'an unsafe situation', although this is contrary to their own definition that exceeding the safety values leads to a 'disproportionate risk' (of) derailment and bodily harm.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Half of Road-Workers Subject to Hazards

The work environment of half the road-workers is hazardous. They must carry very heavy loads, breathe in carcinogenic dust and risk being wounded by passing vehicles. These are the conclusions of the Labor Inspection after having visited more than 380 locations over the last year.

Justice Ministry: Prohibition on Surfing Wikipedia

The Ministry of Justice has introduced a prohibition on surfing Wikipedia for all of its employees, including collaborators of trials. The reason is abusive use of the system by some employees while working on texts on Wikipedia.

Rector Ends Muslim Missionary Activities at School

In a letter to parents of pupils of the Comeniuslyceum school in Amsterdam-Slotervaart, the rector of the school has, inter alia, prohibited the distribution of discriminatory literature. He considered this step necessary after find that booklets explaining that Islam teaches that women are inferior to men had been circulated. It was also found that some pupils had threatened others who did not fast during the Ramadan.

New ‘Sport”: Checking One’s Neighbors’ Mortgage

With the automation of the Land Register a new “sport” has emerged: checking one’s neighbors’ mortgage. On some days more than 100,000 such requests are registered. The register earned 4.5 million Euro last year from these requests.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Increase in anti-Semitic Incidents

The Center for Information and Documentation Israel has published a report which showing that anti-Semitic incidents in The Netherlands have increased from 159 in 2005 to 261 in 2006. Desecration of war monuments and graffiti around National Remembrance Day of 4 May have also greatly increased due to right wing extremism. A poll showed that 91% of Dutchmen think that anti-Semitism has remained the same or increased over the past five years.

In English:

Situation of Elderly Unemployed Worrisome

The situation of the elderly unemployed on the labor market is very worrisome and could become an unacceptable social problem. While 700 experts polled expect that unemployment in general will decrease in the coming three years, they forecast that for people over the age of 50, it will increase. 40% of those polled consider that ethnic discrimination is “high” or very “high”.,1

Activities of Small Development Aid Organizations not Transparent.

Research by the Radboud University in Nijmegen shows that development aid provided by small Dutch organizations is not more efficient than that by large ones. The number of projects undertaken by small organizations is not known. Estimates vary from 6,000 to 15,000. In an investigation of fourteen such projects undertaken by small Dutch development organizations in Malawi nine were found to be illegal.

Alcohol Breath Test at School Parties

One of Amsterdam’s leading schools, the Barlaeus Gymnasium, will begin to carry out random alcohol breath tests at school parties. Younger pupils who have already had one alcoholic drink before they arrive will be sent home. For older students a higher allowance of drinking before the party will be allowed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Number of Acquittals in Court Cases Increases Greatly

The Council for the Administration of Justice has found that there has been a steep increase in the number of acquittals in criminal cases since September 2005, when there was a Parliamentary debate about a misjudgment in a murder case and the wrong person was found guilty. Until then the rate acquittals had been stable at about 4%. This has now risen to 7%. Other possible reasons for the increase in acquittals include a decline in the quality of detective work.

Study: Many Nurses make Mistakes

According to research carried out by Nursing, a journal for nurses, 30% of nurses have admitted to making mistakes in the administration of medications. More than half reported that they know colleagues who have made such errors. According to one expert an estimated quarter of all medical mistakes in major hospitals are the result of mistakes with medications.

Liberal Party Aims at Steep Decline in “Wedding Immigrants”

Former Minister of Defense Henk Kamp (Liberal Party) wants to reduce the number of people who come into the Netherlands to get married from 30,000 to 5,000 annually. He proposes that foreigners who come to marry nieces or nephews should not be admitted. These are often arranged marriages. He also wants to raise the age of foreigners who can come into the country for the purpose of marriage, from 21 to 24.

Broken Government Promise - Increase in Hazardous Train Transport

A yet secret report of the Rail Infrastructure Company ProRail has been disclosed by RTL News. In the past the Minister of Transport had announced that there be a reduction in the transport of hazardous products such as chemicals, oil and gas in the southern part of the Netherlands. The ProRail document, however, forecasts an increase of as much as 10% for some towns.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cannabis Growing Moves to the Country

Every year about six thousand cannabis growing facilities in private homes are closed down by the police because of neighbors’ complaints. Cannabis is the plant from which marijuana and hashish are produced. Growers increasingly move to the countryside where cultivating cannabis in sheds is less likely to be discovered. It also enables criminal organizations to take a larger role in cannabis growing.

Liberal Party wants Government to Seek out Illegal Residents

The Liberal Party estimates that there are between 75,000-185,000 illegal residents in the country. It wants the authorities to actively seek them out and expel them. Municipalities or other bodies who help illegal residents should be prosecuted. The party also proposes shutting down mosques and youth centers which offer a podium for radical imams. The latter should be expelled. If they have Dutch nationality, it should be revoked. Loudspeakers on mosques, used for calling the faithful to prayer, should be forbidden.

Abuse of Woman on Marine Ship

According to the military prosecution a woman soldier was locked in a box which was then turned upside down by male Marines on the Dutch marine ship Tjerk Hiddes. On another occasion the same woman soldier was hanged by her legs outside the ship. The prosecutor asked for 75 hours of community service for one of the accused, and 50 hours for another. None of those guilty of the second incident have yet been identified.

Costs of Meetings in the Netherlands – 60 Billion Euro

The cost of all meetings in the Netherlands amounts to 60 billion Euro annually. Thirty billion are spent on meeting time; preparation time costs 16 billion; 14 billion Euro are spent on travel costs. Forty-four percent of those interviewed consider that half or more of these meetings are useless.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PVV Party: Prosecute Muslim Women who Refuse Male Doctor

During Parliamentary questions, the right wing PVV Party asked the Ministers of Health and Justice to pass a law by which it would be possible to prosecute Muslim women for discrimination if they refuse to be examined by male doctors. They also requested the resignation of Peter Holland, head of the KNMG – the Royal Dutch Doctors’ Association –because he said that Muslim women should have the right to refuse male doctors.

Seventeen Arrests at Soccer Game

The police arrested 17 people in connection with the soccer game between Feyenoord and Ajax in Rotterdam. Four were arrested due to violence, the others because of possession of fireworks, lack of identity cards and other transgressions.

Liberal Party: Stronger Punishment Required for Various Crimes

On behalf of the Liberal Party (VVD), the Parliamentarian Fred Teeven, a former prosecutor, proposed that the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse which at present is 12-15 years, should be abolished and that these crimes can be prosecuted without any time limits. He also proposed that youngsters of 16-17 years old can more frequently be judged as adults. He said that youngsters who terrorize neighborhoods should not get away with only one to two years of youth detention, as is often the case at present.

Invitation to Palestinian Terrorist Retracted by Trade Union

A major Dutch trade union, Abvakabo, has retracted an invitation to a Palestinian who resides in the Netherlands, to participate in a conference. The man, who has been involved in smuggling explosives for the Palestinian terror organization El-Fatah, had been invited to speak at the conference which originally, among other subjects, was going to discuss boycott actions against Israel. Under great pressure a trade union spokesman said that the union is against boycott actions and that the purpose of the conference is now solely to exchange expertise with Palestinian trade unions.