Expatica news

The Dutch news in July 2006

6 July 2006
15 Ajax fans sentenced for clubhouse attack 

A court in The Hague has imposed sentences of one to four years on 15 supporters of Ajax Amsterdam. Portions of each of the sentences were suspended on condition the defendants do not re-offend. They were charged with a range of offences committed when up to 70 Ajax hooligans stormed the ADO supporters’ home in The Hague last February. Prosecutors described how the Ajax fans were armed with an assortment of weapons, including batons, knives and Molotov cocktails. They attacked the 10 ADO fans present and beat them up. One was stabbed. The court imposed the heaviest sentence, four years with the last year suspended, on R. T., 19, from Utrecht. He threw a Molotov cocktail into the building and the presiding judge said this put both people and property at risk. Three others received lower sentences for their roles in the arson bid.

6 July 2006
Ex-Liberal boss compares Verdonk to Le Pen 

Rita Verdonk, the hard-line minister for immigration, has been targeted by fresh criticism. This time it comes from Hans Dijkstal, the former leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) of which she is a member. Dijkstal suggested she fits into the line of populists that incorporates French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Filip Dewinter of the right-wing Vlaams Belang and Jörg Haider, the former leader of the right-wing FPO in Austria. The former VVD leader also included murdered Dutch populist Pim Fortuyn and American billionaire Ross Perot on the list. Perot contested the US presidential election in 1992 and 1996.

Jan Peter Balkenende

10 July 2006
Balkenende III gets green light
Jan Peter Balkenende’s minority coalition government received the backing of parliament. Left-wing opposition parties were however critical of Balkenende’s record to date. Femke Halsema, leader of the green-left GroenLinks, emphasised this was Balkenende’s third government in four years. She and other party leaders warned the Christian Democrat-Liberal coalition government it could lose the support of parliament if it tried to introduce controversial legislation. But Democrat D66 did not follow through on a threat to introduce a motion of no confidence in the government. The Prime Minister promised in a short speech that his Cabinet, which commands only 71 of the chamber’s 150 seats, would act prudently in relation to ‘irreversible decisions’. He declined to spell out what legislative reform the coalition would deal with and what issues would be avoided.

10 July 2006
MPs approve modified integration law 
It seems likely that the controversial integration law will come into effect on 1 January as originally planned. MPs in the Dutch parliament approved a modified version of the legislation. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s minority coalition government was ratified on the same day. Fatma Koser Kaya of the Democrat D66 party was the only MP to vote against the legislation that was drawn up by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk. Opposition parties, Labour (PvdA), Socialist Party (SP), green-left GroenLinks, D66 and Christian group ChristenUnie would have preferred to delay the vote until after the summer to await advice from the Council of State. The Council has been asked whether forcing naturalised residents to take an integration course is discriminatory. The law states that newcomers and certain groups of ‘old-comers’ must pass an integration exam on the Dutch language and culture. Candidates can face sanctions if they do not pass the test within a certain period of time. Many people will have to pay for the cost of the course and exam themselves.

12 July 2006

A ‘Kisses’ urinal

McDonald’s removes mouth-shaped urinals 
A McDonald’s fast-food outlet in the south east of the Netherlands has agreed to remove urinals that are shaped liked wide-open red lips. The decision was taken after a shocked American customer complained to the McDonald’s head office in the US. Owner Giel Pijper said on Wednesday that the bright red, mouth-shaped urinals, named ‘Kisses’, are works of art. But a different view is taken of them in America. The urinals are being removed and will be sold off. “I’m not going to harp on about a pair of urinals,” he said.

14 July 2006
Legionella traced to Post building by CS 

The source of the Legionella outbreak in Amsterdam which has left one elderly man dead and made over 20 others ill is most likely a cooling tower at the old Post building beside Central Station. The Post CS building on the Oosterdokskade is the temporary home for the Stedelijk Museum. The cooling tower next to it was shut down earlier this week as a precaution. The capital’s health service GGD said suspicions centred on the building because two people connected to it had been infected with Legionella, the bacteria that can cause Legionnaire’s disease. One of them is employed at the temporary Stedelijk museum and the other is a construction worker helping to build the new library beside it.

14 July 2006
Amsterdam aims to reclaim ‘top city’ business status 

Amsterdam City Council unveiled an ambitious campaign on Friday to reinvent the Dutch capital as one of the top five locations in Europe for international business and expats. The plan is based on 100 days of talks with business leaders, organisations and government agencies. These discussions established that creativity distinguishes Amsterdam from other cities, the City Council said. “Viewed from an outsider’s vantage point, Amsterdam is clearly ready to reposition itself. This is why we’ve launched the Amsterdam Top City programme. In order to keep ahead of the global competition, Amsterdam needs to renew itself,” the introduction to the plan states. Amsterdam will spend EUR 51 million over the next five years on the project. The five main action areas are developing the best way to use and attract talent; stimulating and facilitating businesses from start to growth; improving the atmosphere: hospitality, freedom and service; creating and using space; and enhancing Amsterdam’s international reputation.

Founders of the paedophile party

17 July 2006
Court refuses to ban Dutch paedophile party 
A court in The Hague had turned down a request to outlaw pro-paedophile party PNVD. The ban was sought by the Soelaas foundation which investigates instances of paedophilia in the Netherlands. But Judge HFM Hofhuis ruled that the PNVD has the same right to exist as any other political party. The court also took into account that Soelaas did not have a compelling and urgent interest to justify a ban.

18 July 2006
Police detain ‘tampon maniac’ in Groningen

The ‘tampon maniac’ was arrested in the northern Dutch city of Groningen. Police decided to detain the 40-year-old man after receiving 15 complaints about his behaviour. He has been seen on numerous occasions rummaging though rubbish bags in search of used tampons and sanitary towels. He is particularly interested in tampons used by students and young women. Police say the man has been active for at least the last six months and has been regularly spotted searching through garbage outside student dorms. It is not known what he does with the items he collects.

19 July 2006
Student Taida gets permission to return

Kosovar Taida Pasic is returning to study law in the Netherlands less than three months after Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk forced her to leave the country. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has given a positive recommendation in response to an application by the University of Leiden, spokesperson Martin Bruinsma for the Ministry of Justice said. Pasic, who wants to study law, lodged an application at the beginning of July for permission to come to the Netherlands. The application was processed within a few weeks as is the case with other students, Bruinsma said. “She meets all the conditions to study in the Netherlands.”

20 July 2006
Unemployment down in Q2

Unemployment in the Netherlands at the end of the second quarter was at its lowest since the summer of 2003, Dutch statistical bureau CBS said. The number of unemployed people declined by some 60,000 in the first six months of the year to a total of 407,000. Unemployment has been in a downward trend for about a year, the CBS reported. An average of 5.5% of the working population was looking for paid work in May, June and July, as compared to some 6.7% in the same period last year (numbers adjusted for seasonal variation). Dutch Work-and-Income Agency (CWI) said on Thursday that the economy had shown signs of strong recovery in the first half of the year. The number of men unemployed declined by nearly 36,000, and women by 22,000, the organisation said. The decline was greatest among people between the ages of 23 and 39, at some 38,000, and nearly double the average. The lowest rate of decline was seen among people aged between 50 and 65.

Lebanon’s flag

21 July 2006
Dutch evacuees set to arrive from war-torn Lebanon
Nearly 700 Dutch people living in Lebanon have been repatriated or have left the country of their own accord, a spokesman for the Dutch foreign affairs ministry said. Two planeloads of Dutch evacuees from Lebanon were scheduled to arrive in the Netherlands. The first group arrived in a KLM 747 chartered by the ministry that landed at Schiphol at 14.00. It consisted of 48 Dutch, 118 Belgians and five Australians. The Dutch had been transferred on Wednesday by ship from Lebanon to Cyprus, where they were put up by the Dutch embassy. The Belgians and Australians had been invited along because there were a lot of seats available after the Dutch had been accommodated. A DC10 operated by the Dutch air force was scheduled to land in Eindhoven on Friday night with another
160 evacuees on board. This group of evacuees had departed Lebanon in convoys of buses for Syria or had left the country on their own in other ways, the foreign ministry spokesman said.

24 July 2006
Netherlands civil services told to shrink in growth bid 

Dutch employers’ organisations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland say the Netherlands has the potential to become the headliner of the European economy, but they warn that Dutch civil service will have to drastically reorganise to make it possible. Government could save between 2 and 2.5 billion euros by scrapping 40,000 policy-oriented jobs, the employers say. “That’s a reduction of ten per cent, since there are 400,000 civil servants,” said VNO-NCW chairman Bernard Wientjes. “This would kill a number of birds with one stone. Fewer rules, lower government costs. And the redundant civil servants would easily find places in the business world because of the greying of the economy and the tight labour market.”

25 July 2006
Drenthe four-day cycling event cancelled due to heat 
Drenthe’s four-day cycling event has been cancelled because of the ongoing heatwave. The event committee took the decision to cancel the event hours before it was due to start on Tuesday morning following advice from the local GGD health service. The country is experiencing a heatwave and temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees. The organisers said they could not cope adequately with heat-related medical problems because the cycling event goes through Drenthe and Overijssel provinces and part of Germany. It is expected many people will still cycle parts of the courses on their own initiative.

25 July 2006
Ahold keeps royal status after scandal 

Ex-CEO Cees van der Hoeven

Dutch supermarket concern Ahold is to keep its ‘koninklijk’ (royal) title despite the accounting scandal in 2003. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands decided to allow the company to keep the royal status following advice from the Minister of Economic Affairs Joop Wijn. “It has become apparent that the company has undertaken sufficient measures to prevent repetition of the accounting irregularities and to restore its reputation,” the government information service said in a statement. Wijn based his advice on Ahold’s account of the reforms and on reports from the Finance and Justice Ministry and the Association of Dutch Stockholders. “Based on this advice, he reached the conclusion that there were no grounds for withdrawing Ahold’s royal designation,” the statement said.

26 July 2006
Dutch firms seek expats close to home 

Companies based in the Netherlands favour expat applicants from neighbouring Belgium and Germany, a new survey has confirmed. The survey — carried out by online recruiting specialist StepStone — revealed 47 percent of HR managers in the Netherlands look for expat workers from Belgium, while 43 percent also recruit Germans. Expats from the UK are also popular with Dutch-based companies: 34 percent of HR managers recruiting abroad have hired or considered people from Britain. The next most popular expat countries are the US and France (both 25 percent).

26 July 2006
Sick leave thrives in hot climate 

Sick leave has spiked in the Netherlands during the high temperatures of the last few weeks. The rates are “abnormally high”, according to Hudson Human Capital Solutions, a firm that monitors sick leave for 900 companies in the Netherlands. “One takes account of seasonal factors when it comes to sick leave,” Saskia Brasser of the company told newspaper ‘De Telegraaf’. “Normally absence as a result of illness is much lower in the summer than it is in the winter. Now we see scarcely any difference,” she said. The levels now are 10 percent higher compared to the same period last year. Hospitality, construction and distribution have been hardest hit as workers in these industries usually don’t have the benefit of air conditioning.

26 July 2006

Guus Hiddink

Guus Hiddink faces tax fraud prosecution 
Guus Hiddink, one of the most successful international soccer coaches the Netherlands has ever produced, is being prosecuted for tax fraud. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) in the Dutch city of Den Bosch confirmed the initial procedural hearing is scheduled for 15 September. The case will be fought out at a later date. Hiddink is accused of making a false statement about his official place of residence in his tax filings for 2002 and 2003. This relates to when he returned to Europe after he led South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. The coach claimed he was resident in Belgium and paid tax there. The authorities don’t accept this.

27 July 2006
Nijmegen mystery man is illegal immigrant 
The Foreign Police service (Vreemdelingenpolitie) has established the identity of the head-injury patient who lay in a hospital in Nijmegen for two months without saying a word. He is a 56-year-old Chinese man who is illegally resident in the Netherlands, police in Utrecht said. The man had a serious head injury when he was brought to St. Radboud hospital in Nijmegen on 5 May. He did not have any identification papers, and attempts to get him to talk were unsuccessful. He was not on any missing persons list and no relatives came forward, despite public appeals.

de Wallen – the red light district

27 July 2006
Heat cools ardour in Red Light District  
Although Amsterdam’s Red Light District is almost overrun with tourists, prostitutes report business is slower than usual because of the hot weather. “The women are having a hard time; it is dreadfully warm,” former prostitute Mariska Majoor of the Prostitute Information Centre said. With the country sweltering in daytime temperatures of around 30 degrees, fewer men than normal are availing of the services offered behind the infamous windows near the centre of the city. “As soon the worst of the heat is gone, the place becomes livelier in the evenings,” Majoor said. Still, prostitutes are complaining of lost income due to the heat.

27 July 2006
Two Dutch die in Afghan helicopter crash 
The Netherlands has suffered its first casualties in Afghanistan days before its military mission officially becomes active. Afghan border police found several bodies at the scene of the crash in a mountainous area in the eastern province of Paktia, a senior police officer said on Thursday. The Russian-made civilian Mi-8 helicopter, operated by a logistics firm, Tryco, crashed between 22 and 25 miles north-east of Khost city on Wednesday. It is believed 16 people were on board.  A search for the crash site was called off late on Wednesday due to the poor weather conditions and failing light. The passengers included a lieutenant colonel of the Dutch Air Force and a sergeant. The pair were attached to the Dutch command staff in the Afghan capital Kabul. The nationalities of the other victims were not immediately known.

28 July 2006
Snake plague rattles Dutch airfield 
Locals residents have called for action to deal with the increasing snake population near the Eelde airfield in Drenthe. For over 10 years the Russian Rat snakes have been living in the vicinity of the airfield. They are not dangerous but they can reach 2 metres in length and their numbers are growing rapidly. The fist snakes were apparently released in the area by someone who did not want to keep them as pets anymore. Contrary to all expectation the snakes have thrived and multiplied in North Drenthe. But later an expert dismissed talk of several hundred snakes. He said there were probably a few dozen.

28 July 2006
Extra water in IJsselmeer as buffer

Officials of the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat) are going to raise the water level of the IJssel Lake as a buffer supply of fresh water. The lake, created by 1932 when the inland Zuider Sea was closed by the Afsluitdam, acts are a major fresh water reserve for agriculture and drinking water in the central Netherlands. If the climate in August is as hot and dry as July, the waters of the IJssel Lake will be more necessary than ever, Rijkswaterstaat said. The level of the IJsselmeer will be raised by 8 centimetres, providing an extra reserve of 100 million cubic metres. Several water companies draw from the Lake. Alternatively, Rijkswaterstaat can, if necessary, re-pump the water back into the polder to maintain the level of the ground water.

31 July 2006
VVD uneasy over Euronext deal 
Liberal Party (VVD) parliamentarians have called on Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm to clarify whether US financial regulations will have influence on Dutch-listed firms if the merger between Euronext and the New York Stock Exchange goes ahead. “There is a chance that because of the merger the much stricter American regulations will work their way through to Euronext Amsterdam,” VVD MP Eske van Egerschot told newspaper ‘Het Financieele Dagblad’. Euronext is a pan-European stock exchange with subsidiaries in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK. Van Egerschot’s comments mirror criticism of the proposed merger by French politicians.

Attack on New York

31 July 2006
Dutch students investigate September 11 
Students at the Delft University of Technology are to seek the “truth” behind the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US. They will have two weeks this summer to carry out their investigations as part of the Studium Generale (lectures on topics of general interest). A comprehensive programme on 9/11 begins in September and the students will be given a chance to present their findings then, a University spokesperson said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Dutch news