The Dutch news in August 2006

6th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

Runners attacked by wasps; Dutch aren't super linguists; Legionella claims a second victim; Job Cohen nominated for World Mayor contest; Groningen rocked by an earthquake - some of the highlights in August 2006.

1 August 2006
Boss drops claim of child porn plot against prosecutor

Joost Tonino

There was no plot to discredit prosecutor Joost Tonino by adding child porn to his computer, his boss has admitted. Harm Brouwer, the head of the prosecution service, suggested hours earlier that at least some of the child porn images found on the defective computer were added after Tonino left it out with the trash. Brouwer raised the plot scenario during a recorded interview for Tuesday's addition of television programme Spraakmakende Zaken (high-profile cases). "Photos were added after the computer left the control of colleague Tonino," Brouwer claimed.

2 August 2006
Dutch polyglot image dented

The Dutch have a high opinion of their ability to speak French, German and English. The reality is very different, according to new research. Even the average command of Dutch is below par, with seniors scoring significantly better than younger people. Bert van Onna and Carel Jansen of Radboud University in Nijmegen based their findings on language tests carried out on employees at 10 large Dutch organisations.

3 August 2006
Second Legionella death in Amsterdam

The Legionella outbreak in Amsterdam in July has claimed a second life. The city's health service announced that the latest victim was an aged person. A total of 30 people became ill between 27 June and 21 July after being infected by the bacteria that can cause Legionnaire's Disease. One of the patients died in early July. That person was also advanced in years. Health inspectors traced the source of the infection to cooling towers at the CS Post Building near Central Station.

3 August 2006
Citizenship denied to 'Dutch' children

Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has turned down a request to grant citizenship to a group of children of Dutch mothers. Lawyer Stans Goudsmit of the Amsterdam-firm Everaert, who is representing the 250 adults, said she will now consider taking court action. Her decision will be dependent on the outcome of a debate in parliament later this month on Verdonk's proposal to further restrict dual citizenship. The issue relates to children born before 1985 to a Dutch mother and a foreign father. Until that time children from a mixed marriage were automatically granted Dutch citizenship only if the father was Dutch. Mothers in such relationships could not transfer their nationality on to their children even though their offspring often felt Dutch. They faced difficulties when trying to visit their families in the Netherlands or come here to live.

4 August 2006
Holloway lawsuit against Dutch teen dismissed

Natalee Holloway

A lawsuit filed by the family of missing US school graduate Natalee Holloway against Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot has been dismissed by a court in New York. Holloway's family were seeking unspecified damages against Joran van der Sloot, 18, claiming he was responsible for the disappearance of their 18-year-old daughter on the autonomous Dutch island of Aruba in May 2005. His father Paul was also cited in the action. Judge Barbara Kapnick sided with an application by the Van der Sloots to quash the suit. She referred to a previous ruling that stated local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for a complex case "when their interest in the suit ... is so ephemeral."

4 August 2006
Courts reverse Verdonk in 75pc of cases surveyed

Judges have repeatedly rejected decisions taken by the Immigration and Naturalisation (IND) so far this year and raised question marks about how the service reaches these decisions. The IND often bases decisions to refuse entry to asylum seekers on shaky ground, newspaper 'AD' said. Accounts given by applications are often not investigated, decisions are in conflict with the law or the arguments used by the IND cut no ice.

7 August 2006
Cohen nominated for World Mayor contest

Major Job Cohen

Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam has been nominated for the 'World Mayor Award 2006'. He faces stiff competition from 15 colleagues from Europe, 10 from North America, six from South America, four from Africa and two from Australia. The City Mayors organisation in London said the result will be announced on 6 December. The World Mayor project is in its third year. The public is being asked to vote for mayors who "have the vision, passion and skills to make their cities amazing places to live in, work in and visit." The aim of the competition is to show "what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles," City Mayors said. Last year's competition was won by the Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.

9 August 2006
Dutch schoolgirls goaded each other to commit suicide

Twelve teenage girls goaded each other via internet chat rooms and MSN instant messenger to commit suicide early this year. The spark for the message exchange was the suicide of a fellow student. The girls, aged 12 to 14, are students of the Stedelijk Lyceum in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede. The school found out what was going on and called the police in. A crisis team, made up of representatives of the school, the police, the local council and the health board, held discussions with the girls. One of teens had to be admitted to a clinic.

9 August 2006
Groningen rocked by 'record' earthquake

Gas drilling in Groningen

An earthquake shook the north of the Netherlands early on Tuesday morning. Measuring 3.5 on the Richter Scale, it was equal in strength to the strongest earthquake on record in the northern Netherlands. This took place in Alkmaar five years ago. Tuesday's quake in Groningen at around 7am was registered by all seismic stations in the country. It was centred on the town of Middelstum which lies in the middle of the gas fields in the province. The town has experienced several earthquakes in recent years. Weather and seismic agency KNMI and local broadcaster RTV Noord were bombarded with telephone calls and emails from concerned residents after the latest quake. Hein Haak said the earthquake was the largest ever measured in Groningen and was felt across the entire province.

11 August 2006
Strong growth drives wages demand

The two largest trade union confederations see the strong performance of the Dutch economy as reason to increase their wage demands for 2007. The FNV and CNV are now seeking an increase up to a maximum 2 percent. Traditionally the unions announce their pay demands for the following year around Budget Day in September. "But it is quite clear that there will be more to divide up in 2007," the FNV said. The Dutch economy has been in the doldrums for the last few years and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's centre-right government has pressured the unions to adhere to wage moderation.

11 August 2006
Report of mayor's death 'greatly exaggerated'

Mayor Annie Brouwer

Utrecht City Council has complained to the police after media outlets were duped into running a bogus report that Mayor Annie Brouwer had died. News service NOS published a story on its teletext service saying she had died as a result of a Legionella infection. The erroneous story was removed 20 to 30 seconds later, a NOS spokesperson said. But this was enough time for business radio station BNR to take up the story. It broadcast a rectification a short time later. Brouwer is being treated for Legionella she picked up while on holiday abroad, but she is very much alive.

14 August 2006
Two shareholders push for break-up of Ahold group

Two shareholders called for the break-up of Dutch retail giant Ahold. New-York based Paulson and Centaurus Capital, a hedge fund headquartered in London, issued a joint statement warning that "drastic strategic action" is needed to deliver value for investors, The Financial Times reported. Together Paulson and Centaurus Capital own 6.4 percent of Ahold's shares. They want Ahold to sell off its business in the US to concentrate on being a "pure play European retailer," the FT said.

14 August 2006
Rush on sun holidays as rain comes down in buckets

Travel agencies have reported a rush of bookings for last-minute sun holidays as torrential downpours continued to soak the Netherlands. Large travel agencies reported bookings were 20 to 25 percent up on the same period last year. Following respite on Sunday, heavy rain again caused problems across the country. The Fire Brigade received dozens of reports of flooded streets, basements and houses.

15 August 2006
Hague to launch expat service card

A customer service card is being launched for the estimated 30,000 expats in The Hague. The card — named HaGuest (Hague Guest) — will guarantee expats good service from the participating shops and businesses, Lydia Harmsen, manager of the scheme, told Expatica. She works for Dæsch Creative Concepts, an event organiser that put together the gala ceremony to mark the 400-year history between the Netherlands and Australia. The idea for the HaGuest card comes from research indicating that while expats are happy with many aspects of life in The Hague, customer service — or the lack of it — is a major concern for international residents.

16 August 2006
Dutch 'googelen' falls foul of Google


Internet search engine Google is not happy with the definition of the new Dutch verb 'googelen'. Updated editions of Dutch dictionaries use the trademark as a verb to describe any searching for information on the internet — regardless of the search engine used. A victim of its own success, the US-based company argues the Dutch 'googelen', like 'to google' in English, should only be used in connection with the Google search engine. It has sent a letter to media companies around the world to warn against incorrect use of the verb to "protect its trademark" and "prevent it becoming a generic term".

16 August 2006
Expatica hosts 3rd expo for international community

After the success of the 2004 and 2005 events, Expatica presents the 'I AM NOT A TOURIST!' expo in Amsterdam for the international community on 22 October. Harel Shalev, Expatica's Marketing and Events Manager, says this event will be an "interactive extravaganza of entertainment, classes, seminars, prizes, surprises and more."  Hosted in the imposing Beurs van Berlage, the event will have something for all members of the international community "whether you've lived in the Netherlands for 5 months or 5 years".

21 August 2006
Lowest murder rate for 10 years

Fewer Dutch were the victims of murder or manslaughter last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) announced. In fact, the 198 murders nationwide last year was the lowest recorded number in the past 10 years. Around 70 percent of the victims were male, mostly killed with firearms. Women were more likely to be killed with a knife. Two thirds of female victims died in their own homes, as opposed to half the male victims.

22 August 2006
Dutch are sober, generous lottery winners

A majority of Dutch people (69 percent) would share their prize if they won the lottery, but almost as many did not expect to share in any cash won by family or friends. These were the main findings of research conducted for the Nederlandse Staatsloterij released on Tuesday. Some 667 people between the ages of 15 and 64 participated in the survey. The Dutch are also rather level-headed fortune hunters, the researchers said, with just 7 percent admitting to little rituals when they play the lottery and 18 percent saying they choose lucky numbers. They are also quite pessimistic (or realistic), with just 12 percent believing they will ever win the jackpot. But if they did, around a quarter said they would spend the money on living a more luxurious life and doing more nice things. Others would buy a house (18 percent) or pay off debts (15 percent).

23 August 2006
Fortuyn successors launch party for national poll

'Eén NL' is the name of the new political party launched by Rotterdam politician Marco Pastors and former populist LPF MP Joost Eerdmans. The right-wing politicians founded the party in a bid to win a foothold in the Lower House of Parliament at the upcoming elections. And a spokesperson for Een NL said the party is hoping to win at least 15 seats. Its major policy areas will be social security, safety, education, bureaucracy and integration.  An important plank of its manifesto will be the belief that everyone who wants to live in the Netherlands must accept that Western culture that predominates.

24 August 2006
Eindhoven runners attacked by wasps

Wasps menace runners

Around 100 long distance runners were attacked and stung by wasps on Wednesday night in Eindhoven, 12 of them so seriously they needed hospital treatment. The runners were taking part in the Grote Beekloop, a race taking place in the rolling terrain surrounding the Grote Beek psychiatric clinic in Eindhoven. At 7.45pm, the runners followed the course through a wood, whereupon they were attacked by the wasps, Eindhoven public healthcare official Felix van Poll said. The Eindhoven health services sent six ambulances to the scene and a trauma helicopter was also dispatched. Of the 12 runners sent to hospital, four were unconscious. A bee keeper has been called in to remove the nest of aggressive wasps.

25 August 2006
Dutch release 12 'terror jet' passengers

Dutch justice officials have released the 12 passengers arrested when the cabin crew of an American plane bound for India thought they were acting suspiciously. The Northwest Airlines flight to Mumbai, with 149 passengers, was escorted back to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport by two Dutch F-16 fighter jets. The 12 Indian men were taken into custody and questioned by officials of the Public Prosecution Service (OM). The incident was widely reported in the international media as it came shortly after arrests in Britain over an alleged plot to down passenger planes. But Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said that "to date it does not appear that the (Schiphol) incident was terror-related." The men were released from the detention centre at the airport later in the evening and moved to a hotel. They left the Netherlands in the early hours of Friday morning.

25 August 2006
Aruba asks Dutch to take lead in Holloway case

Aruba has asked the Netherlands to take over the leadership of the stalled investigation into the disappearance of US school graduate Natalee Holloway. Dutch minister Atzo Nicolaï has indicated a willingness to help the investigation. "But we still have to look at the precise agreements under which we would work," he said. Nicolaï (Government Reform and Kingdom Relations) made his comments at the end of his official visit to the autonomous Dutch island in the Caribbean. The request for assistance was made by Aruban Justice Minister Rudy Croes. Aruba has been hit by negative publicity in the US for over a year since Holloway, 18, vanished on the night of 30 May 2005. She was on holiday with friends to celebrate their graduation and was last seen leaving a local tourist venue with three youths.

25 August 2006
Integration plan hits new equality snag

Green left party GroenLinks has called on Immigration and Naturalisation Minister Rita Verdonk to respond to a report the country's highest administrative court has shot down one of the main planks of her integration legislation. The Council of State (Raad van State in Dutch) has advised the minister that holders of a Dutch passport, regardless of their employment status, cannot be compelled to follow an integration course. Broadcaster RTL Nieuws said the report is still confidential but it has obtained a copy.

28 August 2006
Abou Jahjah is Lebanon-bound - permanently

Dyan Abu Jahjah

The founder of the Arab European League (AEL), Dyab Abou Jahjah, will return to his native country of Lebanon permanently at the start of 2007. Abou Jahjah had previously said he would always return to Lebanon from Belgium "by 2009", newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.

28 August 2006
Minister gets first Dutch biometric passport

Reform Minister Atzo Nicoläi received the first Dutch electronic passport in his home district of Amstelveen. The biometric document replaces the traditional paper-only passport and is designed to make identity fraud more difficult. People applying for a Dutch passport from now on will receive the biometric version. The new passport includes a digital chip which contains a photo and personal details about the bearer, such as name, sex and SOFI number.

29 August 2006
All about Rutger at Netherlands film festival

Rutger Hauer

A documentary about Dutch actor Rutger Hauer is to premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht on 4 October. Entitled 'Blond, Blue Eyes', the documentary was made by Simone de Vries who followed the 62-year-old actor over a two-year period. It shows Hauer in Hollywood, in his home in the northern Dutch province of Friesland, and on film sets in Romania and in Real Madrid's stadium. Hauer speaks candidly about his many-sided career and his relationship with his wife. It is noteworthy that Hauer gave De Vries permission to film him as intensively as he is known to be publicity shy. Born in Breukelen in 1944, Hauer has played more than 100 roles. His first break came in 1969 in Paul Verhoeven's Dutch series about the knight Floris. They worked together subsequently on the films Turks Fruit (1973), Soldaat van Oranje (1977) and Spetters (1980).

30 August 2006
Artificial grass in cancer scare

Playing football on artificial grass may be a cancer risk, it was reported. Testing ordered by Arnhem City Council revealed clouds of toxic gasses and particles above the new artificial grass field in the eastern Dutch city. This has led to concerns other fields are not safe either, newspaper 'De Telegraaf' said. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has begun an in-depth investigation following the results from Arnhem. Earlier conclusions that artificial grass is safe will now have to be reviewed. Based on the initial unsettling findings in Arnhem, the RIVM is advising that work on new fields be halted. The spreading of the gains on another field in Arnhem has already been postponed.

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6 September 2006

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Dutch news in August 2006


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