The Dutch news in January 2006

2nd February 2006, Comments 0 comments

The year starts with public pessimism about money; Queen Beatrix recovers from a knee operation; Jelle Klaasen becomes a darts sensation and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk raises a few laughs with her plan to 'encourage' everyone to speak Dutch.

2 January 2006
Dutch less gloomy, but not ecstatic about 2006  

Will you see more in 2006?

The average Dutch person is not very positive about 2006, with four out of ten expecting a deterioration of their financial situation, according to research bureau Trendbox. "But this is 15 percent less gloominess than the expectations regarding 2004 and 2005," Trendbox said. The bureau questioned 500 people in December about their expectations for the coming year. Another result of the survey was that more money than in previous years will be spent on vacations, while Dutch people expect to devote less time to odd jobs and gardening. The traditional New Year's resolution about getting fit has also taken a knock in 2006. The survey found that the average Dutch person also expects to devote less time to physical exercise and fitness training, but attention will be paid to healthier eating. The biggest concern is the new health care system which came into force on 1 January 2006. More than half the people questioned expect it to descend into chaos. The annual concern about mortgage interest rate increases is also high on the list for 2006.

3 January 2006
Court OKs bonuses for prescribing cheap drugs 
A Dutch appeal court rules health insurers can continue to pay bonuses to doctors who prescribe cheaper anti-cholesterol and antacid medicines instead of the more expensive branded alternatives. The case was taken by four pharmaceutical companies, Altana Pharma, MSD and Pfizer, against health insurer Menzis. But the ruling covers all insurance companies in the Netherlands. The four companies lost the original challenge to Menzis's bonus scheme back in October.

4 January 2006

Mabel and Friso

Prince Friso's wife is a lady in waiting 

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announces her second son, Prince Johan Friso, is to be a father for the second time. The Queen, who is recovering from a knee operation, is "extraordinarily pleased" about the news, the government information service RVD said. Prince Friso and his wife, Mabel Wisse Smit, are expecting their second child at the end of June. They have a daughter, Luna, who was born in London on 26 March last year. She was baptised on 18 December.

5 January 2006
Fortis considers Islam-friendly investments 

The Belgian-Dutch Banking group Fortis is considering launching an investment plan that respects Islamic opposition to investments that earn money. The concept of credit and interest is very complex within the Islamic faith, but the basic rule is simple:  money cannot earn money. Fortis might therefore set up accounts that do not yield interest for the account holders. The interest could then be donated to the disadvantaged. The banking and insurance firm is also considering setting up investment schemes which are not linked to companies involved in the alcohol, sex, gaming or tobacco industries.

5 January 2006
Women catching up in wage race 

Although men often get paid more than their female colleagues for the same work in the Netherlands, the gap is narrowing. Intermediair, a magazine covering the employment market, published the results of its 'Loopbaan Enquête 2005' survey. Some 7,000 highly-educated professionals took part in the study that indicated the wages paid to women in the IT sector in the Netherlands increased by 5.5 percent last year. Salaries paid to their male colleagues rose by 3.8 percent. Intermediair said this trend is evident in almost all sectors of the Dutch economy, apart from business services. "Women's wages are even rising faster in the traditional male bastion of industry," the researchers said.

6 January 2006

Frans van Anraat

Saddam's chemical supplier
faces genocide appeal
The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) has lodged an appeal against the decision in December to acquit businessman Frans Van Anraat of complicity in genocide by Saddam Hussein. The trial court jailed Van Anraat in December for 15 years for complicity in war crimes in relation to poison gas attacks carried out by Saddam's forces in Iraq and Iran. The OM wants an appeal court to rule whether Van Anraat was an accomplice to genocide by providing some of the chemical compounds used to manufacture the gas. Van Anraat is also appealing against his conviction and sentence. The trial court accepted evidence that  Van Anraat, 63, delivered a large amount of raw materials for chemical weapons to Saddam's regime. The dictator used the poison gas from 1984 to 1988 in the war with Iran. Thousands of men, women and children were killed when the weapons were used on Kurdish villages in the north of Iraq in 1988.

9 January 2006
Mother arrested after bodies of four babies are found 
A woman and her partner were arrested in December after DNA testing confirmed they were the parents of four dead babies. The body of a newborn baby was discovered in the home of the woman's mother in Haarlem on 21 December. It emerged on Sunday the bodies of three other "tiny" babies were found following searches in the garden of the suspects' home on Alkmaarseweg in Beverwijk, north-west of Amsterdam. The 29-year-old mother of the babies is in custody. The father, Jeroen de W., 35, has denied any responsibility for the deaths of his children. He has been released and has moved "with his Rottweiler" into his parents' home near Beverwijk.

9 January 2006
Queen Beatrix recovering from knee op 
Queen Beatrix's health has improved, her personal physician says. It was decided at the weekend that the Queen would remain longer than initially planned in Bronovo hospital in The Hague because she developed pneumonia. The monarch, 67, underwent an operation at the Red Cross hospital in the city to fit an artificial knee at the beginning of the year. This hospital specialises in knee operations but the royals generally stay in the Bronovo to recuperate after medical treatment.

11 January 2006
Dutch minister to talk water with White House 

Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst is to travel to Washington in February to discuss the Dutch approach to water management. Brinkhorst announces the visit after meeting with a delegation from Louisiana, led by Senator Mary Landrieu, that viewed the Delta Works. The Delta Works is a system of 13 dams on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands. It is designed to prevent a repeat of the flooding that killed 1,800 people in 1953. Louisiana bore the brunt of the flooding cased by Hurricane Katrina last August.

13 January 2006
Afghans longing for Dutch troops: ambassador 
"Afghanistan is anxiously waiting the arrival of Dutch troops. As a paradise on Earth, the Netherlands has a duty to help others," the Afghan Ambassador in Brussels Humayun Tandar says. Tandar was referring to the ongoing political discussion in The Hague on whether to send 1,200 Dutch troops to take part the 6,000-strong Nato mission in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. The Taliban remain active in the area. Speaking on current affairs programme 'Nova', Tandar said it was "a choice between the fight against the fascist Taliban and the terrorists of al Qaeda, or bombs in one's own country and trains full of blood, as happened in Madrid."

16 January 2006

Jelle Klaasen celebrates

Jelle beats champion Barney in all-Dutch darts final 
Dutchman Jelle Klaasen makes history when he beats fellow countryman Raymond van Barneveld in the final of the Darts World Championship in the UK. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende both convey their congratulations to the 21-year-old relative newcomer from Alphen in Brabant. Klaasen beat titleholder Van Barneveld, known as 'Barney', 7-5 in the final at Frimley Green in Surrey. Van Barneveld, 38, has won the title four times. Klaasen started playing darts less then five years ago. He had not heard of Barney before he started playing himself. Van Barneveld has played darts since 1984. A 100-1 outsider at the start of the tournament, Klaasen is the youngest ever champion. It is also the first time in the 29-year history of the tournament that a British player has not played in the final.

17 January 2006
Cohen calls for action to stem 'unrest' in Amsterdam 

Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam speaks out about his worries of disorder in the city. "There is unrest in the city", he said after talks with the chairpersons of Amsterdam's 14 districts. The meeting was organised following several incidents involving young people in a few parts of the city since the start of the year. "There is an underlying feeling whereby it would only take minor incidents to cause an outburst," Cohen said. He said there was a revival of unrest, after a period of relative calm in Amsterdam, due to the activities of about 100 young people with behavioural problems. "We are now working with justice officials to find a solution," he stated.

18 January 2006
'Zwarte Cobra' jailed in America for drug dealing  

Henk Rommy

Dutch drug dealer Henk Rommy was sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined USD 1 million in the United States. Rommy is also known as the Zwarte Cobra (Black Cobra) and has a number of previous convictions in the Netherlands for drug offences. A jury found him guilty in September last year of plotting to smuggle Ecstasy to New York. Rommy's lawyer Mark Teurlings said the judge claimed he would have jailed Rommy for life "if he could have". It was revealed earlier this month Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner asked for clarification from the US authorities on the method used to trap Rommy.

18 January 2006

The Dutch put Australia on the map

Australia celebrates Dutch ties  
Australia, the land first put on the map by Dutch explorers, has opened a year of celebrations to mark the 400-year history between the two countries. Australian Ambassador Stephen Brady outlined the jubilee events for the year during a press launch in the 'Des Indes' hotel in The Hague. The countries have been linked since the Dutch East Indies vessel 'Duyfken' sailed from the port of Batavia (now the Indonesian capital Jakarta) 4 centuries ago to map out the unknown territory south of the Dutch Indies.

18 January 2006
Spooks to spy on Lonsdale youth 

The Dutch intelligence service (AIVD) will be on alert for right-wing extremists trying to radicalise native Dutch teens, Interior Minister Johan Remkes says. The minister gave this commitment in a letter sent to parliament in response to a supplementary report by the AIVD into the 'Lonsdale youth'. Groups of white, native Dutch youths who dress in clothes made by Lonsdale have been associated with racist incidents and anti-social behaviour.

19 January 2006
Donner praises tough approach to dope farms 

Justice Minister Piet Donner hopes that all Dutch councils will adopt the tough example of Rotterdam in pursuing the detection and dismantling of illegal cannabis plantations. Rotterdam passes on the cost of dismantling and removing equipment and plants discovered on to the occupier or owner op the building. So far this year the city has uncovered 32 plantations; the council estimates there are 5,000 city-wide and has vowed to find them all. The minister was speaking on Wednesday when he was present at a raid on a plantation in an uninhabited house in Rotterdam’s Tarwewijk district.

19 January 2006
Dutch murder rate at 15-year low 
There were 201 murders committed nationwide in 2005, the lowest figure for 15 years, according to Elsevier magazine’s annual Murder List. Amsterdam is once again the murder capital of the Netherlands with 32 people killed, followed by Rotterdam (26) and The Hague with 15. Worth noting is that Utrecht – the fourth-largest city – scores so low. Just two murders were committed there in 2005. As for the provinces, Zuid-Holland had 68 murders – a rise on the year before when there were 53. For the second successive year there were no murders in Drenthe. In the 1990s there was an average of 250 killings each year in the Netherlands. With 283 murders, 1997 was the worst annual total. The police themselves compile no national figures for murder and manslaughter and in many regions their registration is incomplete.

20 January 2006
City cops told to smarten up 
Piercings, visible tattoos, messy hair and unpolished shoes will be ‘out’ this season - indeed every season, at least among Amsterdam police. The city's scruffy cops have got to smarten themselves up, police chief Bernard Welten said in an interview in HP / De Tijd magazine published on Wednesday. "How can you control your surroundings and talk about being civil if you yourself look uncivilized?" said Welten, promising to reveal his full plans for a smarter police force at a meeting soon.

20 January 2006
Dutch MPs approve hi-tech test for would-be migrants 

Migrants who want to come to the Netherlands will from March be obliged to take an inburgering (acclimatization) test in the country they are applying from. A majority of the Tweede Kamer supported the plan of immigration minister Rita Verdonk when it was presented on Thursday, provided that candidates are not punished for any teething troubles with its implementation. By setting out clear guidelines for would be migrants (joining families or coming for marriage, for instance), it is hoped the compulsory test will force migrants to be better prepared for life in Dutch society before they arrive. Candidates must take the exam – in Dutch - at an embassy or consulate. It will test their knowledge of the language and culture and be taken over the phone, verbally, using a PC with speech recognition software.

23 January 2006
Verdonk backs code of conduct to bolster Dutch ID 
Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk favours the introduction of a code of conduct for the public to emphasise Dutch identity, including speaking Dutch in the street, non-discrimination and equality between men and women. Verdonk outlined her ideas to a congress of JOVD, the youth wing of the Liberal Party (VVD) on Saturday. The leadership of the JOVD said afterwards the organisation absolutely rejected the idea. The VVD minister has been inspired by the unveiling late last week of the Rotterdam Code, a charter for daily conduct consisting of seven points for residents of the port city.
The Rotterdam Code states Dutch should be spoken on the street and in the home as much as possible.

24 January 2006

Bert Bakker

Politicians heap ridicule on Verdonk's language drive 
"Oh no. Minister Verdonk doesn't allow me to speak English in public anymore," MP Bert Bakker jokes during a parliamentary debate in The Hague on Monday afternoon. Bakker, a member of the junior government party D66, promised to adhere to the language initiative Verdonk wants to include in a code of conduct to enhance the Dutch identity. But in response to a question from a colleague, Bakker said: "That goes without saying." Parliamentarians were discussing the new well-being legislation (WMO) on Monday but references to the 'Verdonk code' made repeated appearances. Moroccan-born MP Naïma Azough of the green-left Groenlinks talked about the "extreme make over" being planned by the health ministry to the law that deals with the welfare of senior citizens, people with disabilities and the chronically ill. MP Margot Kraneveldt of the populist LPF party asked about the "bling, bling" of the new law. Bakker categorised the legal changes as "pimp my law".

25 January 2006
Officials see legal problems with integration plan 
Official agencies have serious doubts about the legal tenability of the reworked integration plan proposed by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk. The Equality Commission (CGB) voices concerns about the distinction being made between different groups of Dutch citizens when MPs meet with experts on Wednesday. Teun van Os van den Abeelen Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Immigration Affairs (ACVZ) warned the minister's initiative could face major legal difficulties. Under Verdonk's plan, residents up to the age of 65 who have spent less than eight years in the Netherlands during their school age are obliged to undergo a course to help them integrate into Dutch society. Gaining a command of the Dutch language is the major requirement of the integration course.

26 January 2006
Anti-terror campaign starts in February 
A national campaign to inform the public about the government's drive against terrorism begins in the Netherlands on 27 February. Home Affairs Minister Johan Remkes tells parliament every household will receive a leaflet and adverts will be run on television, radio and in newspapers. The purpose of the campaign is to explain what the government is doing, and what the public can do to help. The government is working on the campaign with the four major cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Dutch rail company NS, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and the police are also involved.

30 January 2006
Holleeder arrested in extortion investigation  

Willem Holleeder

Willem Holleeder, one of the men who kidnapped beer magnate Freddy Heineken in 1983, is suspected of extorting money from real estate agents. Detectives of the serious crime division, nationale recherche, arrested Holleeder and 10 other suspects on Sunday night. The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) said on Monday that the arrests were part of a major investigation into extortion of real estate agents by Dutch criminals and their associates from the former Yugoslavia. Holleeder is suspected of assault, making threats and extorting money from property tycoons, including his former associate Willem Endstra. Endstra was shot dead outside his office in Amsterdam in May 2004.

30 January 2006
Kofi Annan asks Dutch to help in Afghanistan 

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan holds talks with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and expresses the hope the parliament in The Hague will "take the right decision" this week on sending troops to Afghanistan. He tells reporters after the meeting that problems could arise and the mission would not be "as successful as we would have hoped" without the Dutch contribution of 1,200 troops.

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3 February 2006

[Copyright Expatica + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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