The court of Groningen handed down a ‘historical verdict’ last Thursday by refusing to punish two cannabis growers who ‘safely and responsibly’ carry out their work, only selling to coffee shops and even paying taxes. While the court found the growers guilty of cultivating weed, it refused to punish them for doing so, underlying the Dutch hypocrisy of punishing ‘the back door’ while turning a blind eye to selling through ‘the front door’. Weed sold in coffee shops is ‘tolerated’ and still illegal, but it continues to be supplied illegally, which is often challenged.
“Coffee shops must supply themselves and so cultivation must be done to satisfy these demands,” the Groningen court said, “but the law does not state how this supply should be done.” What growers do is illegal, but allowing the sale of cannabis since 1976 in coffee shops is very hypocritical and blatantly encourages crime.
The government enjoys the tax money it gets from legitimate businesses like coffee shops, and now the back door has now been left open. Other growers could also soon go unpunished, en route to the legal supply of cannabis for coffee shops.
(Links: phys.org, www.voc-nederland.org)
Tags: cannabis, coffee shops, Groningen, marijuana, weed
Celebrity laywer Oscar Hammerstein must have been out of the spotlight for too long. Volkskrant reports that even though the foundation claims not to have money to spend on legal counsel, they have managed to get Hammerstein (400 euro per hour) to seize two of Krol’s houses for them.
The foundation Vrienden van de Gay Krant (Friends of de Gay Krant, a gay paper) is being besieged by the Dutch Ministry of Education, which wants to get subsidies back that were earmarked for an online meeting place for teenage gays, but which Krol allegedly used to fund his other enterprises during his stint as foundation chairman. In turn the foundation felt Krol should pay their debt as it was he who got them into this mess.
One of the two houses is Krol’s villa in Eindhoven which he wants to sell for 860,000 euro, which includes a bar, a sauna, a hair salon and an obscene amount of marble. Financial gossip mag Quote has photos. The ministry’s bill is apparently only for 206,833 euro.
Krol’s party 50PLUS, who run on a platform of milking the young (read: poor) to give to the elderly (read: not so poor), have accused Volkskrant and AD of ‘damaging’ Krol. Considering that the man who allegedly robbed his employees of their pension funds has not been convicted, nor even prosecuted, they may have a point. On the other hand, the return of Krol in parliament to replace a sick colleague has led to an increase of projected votes of 50% in the polls (read: 1 seat) according to Maurice de Hond.
Tags: 50PLUS, Dutch celebrities, Henk Krol, money, pensioners, pensions, villas
I don’t really have much to say about the marathon of Amsterdam which took place today, except that I liked the photo of Kenyans Lucas Rotich and John Mwangangi that I took on Amstelveenseweg near the finish. The two athletes came in second and third after their countryman Bernard Kipyego who ran 42 kilometres and 195 metres in a personal best time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 20 seconds, NRC reports.
The fastest woman was Betelhem Moges from Ethiopia in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 35 seconds, followed by Ogla Kimaiyo from Kenya and Diane Nukuri Johnson from Burundi.
Tags: marathon, track and field
Starting next year Ms Hennie de Haan will become the new chairperson of the Poultry Farmers’ Union of the Netherlands, Telegraaf reports.
In itself this is not interesting news, but if you understand Dutch you’ll realise her name means ‘Hen the Rooster’. Never was there a poultry farmers’ union’s chairperson with a more fitting name, I imagine.
Ms De Haan told AD that she hadn’t even noticed the funny pairing at first: “Well, I’ve had this name for 45 years now. You don’t often stop to contemplate your own name. My partner had to point out [how remarkable this is]. [...] Usually chicken farming is discussed in terms of the environment and the treatment of animals. If my name causes a smile [...] I consider that a bonus.”
A popular go-to person for the Dutch press whenever a plane threatens to fall out of the sky is the former chairperson of the Association of Dutch Commercial Pilots, Benno Baksteen, whose last name means ‘brick’.
Every year popular radio DJs Coen & Sander collect the funniest names they can find and crown one of them the ‘shame name’ of the year. Two weeks ago that award went to Wil Helmes, which sounds like the title of the Dutch anthem, ‘Wilhelmus’. Number 2 was Ben Bouten, which means ‘off to poo’. Third place went to Leen Kleingeld means ‘borrow small change’.
Tags: animal cruelty, chickens, farming, funny names, names, poultry, Wilhelmus
Daniel Kok makes artwork with custard, in Dutch known as ‘vla’, which comes in cartons like milk cartons. He’s going strong on instagram, showcasing Dutch and international portraits. He calls it ‘Vlaart’ (‘vla’ and ‘art’). Kok says his daughter asked him to make her something in 2011 and has been honing his custard art skills every since.
(Link and image: www.froot.nl)
Tags: custard, desserts, Vermeer, vla
Borre Akkersdijk, a ‘textile developer’, designed a onesie called the BB.Suit that “allows you to become technology”. Presented at the SXSW in Texas earlier this year, the knitted BB.Suit has Wi-Fi, GPS with room gadgets and computer chips. At the time it was a prototype, and the issue of washing the onesie with tech in it was definitely a problem. Akkersdijk aptly points out that wearable technology still has a long way to go.
Walking around and being a Wi-Fi hotspot seems like the most practical use of this outfit, especially abroad.
Embedded with copper wires that enable WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Bluetooth, the BB.Suit turns its wearer into a mappable hotspot with mp3 streaming ability. Batteries, processor boards, and UI actuators live in the BB.Suit’s pockets, making the rest of the suit feel seamless, and it’s made of two layers of cotton to hide and protect the copper cables, with filling that puffs when it’s steamed, meaning the onesie is super-comfy too!
(Link: www.shinyshiny.tv, Photo: byborre.com)
Tags: onesie, SXSW, wearables
Roughly translated the Dutch tax office’s motto is, ‘We can’t make it more pleasant, but we can make it easier’, which is often use to preface the exact opposite, as I am about to do.
Some guy’s stepmother dies. Besides coming to terms with the situation, there’s paperwork to be done for the tax office. Many forms have been digitised over the years, but not the one form this guy needs to fill out. In fact, some 140,000 people need to fill out this form every year, but its 27 pages. Our guy says he’ll need to sit down and spend hours figuring it out.
Nope, he can’t send it in digitally. For that one form, he needs to purchase software from one of two publishers who make it for accountants and it costs 610 euro. Our guy is justifiably upset and decides to write to Parliament because sending in most tax forms is usually free. After all the two companies that make this professional software are able to send in their corporate tax forms for free. The tax office didn’t think that people doing taxes for the deceased was a priority, but you wonder why they think it’s OK to force ordinary citizens to buy expensive, almost useless software to fill in one form. Politicians have said they agree, but changing the rules won’t happen overnight.
Tax office cock-ups are a great source of entertainment:
Tax office in Friesland refuses Frisian letter. You can’t talk to the tax office in any other language than Dutch for legal reasons, something we hadn’t mentioned back then.
Tax office tells woman to divorce for benefits. Taxes before bros, thinks the government.
Tags: deceased, tax office
Loose stones on the façade of the DoubleTree hotel in Amsterdam next to Central Station has been called a ‘life-threatening situation’ in a report obtained by newspaper Telegraaf this week. In fact the hotel director is suing project developer MAB who built the hotel three years ago for 140 million euro. The long story short is that the stones aren’t set properly and could very well fall and injure people – or worse.
For all of you in Amsterdam, I suggest not walking the busy route from the hotel to the city library (OBA). Sure, probably nothing will happen, but you don’t want to be the one who gets hit by a falling stone. At the time of writing this, the English-language press was still quiet about the news.
(Link: www.dichtbij.nl, Photo of DoubleTree Hotel Amsterdam by ptc24, some rights reserved.
Tags: Amsterdam, Amsterdam Central Station, DoubleTree, hotel
The business court of The Hague has determined that Dutch Rail can abolish paper train tickets even though the law says a traveller has a right to an objective proof of the right to travel.
The court felt that the new electronic travel card system (OV Chipkaart) suffices because there are five places where you can confirm you have the right to travel. Arnoud Engelfriet lists them all:
- The display of the electronic gate at the time of checking in.
- The display of the vending machine.
- A paper print-out at the service desk.
- A transaction data listing on the Dutch Rail website.
- The display of the train conductor’s travel card reader.
Engelfriet and his commenters point out that there are numerous problems with this verdict.
- The electronic display only shows that you’ve checked in for a very short time, especially if somebody checks in a fraction of a second later (this happens a lot during rush hour).
- If you are in a rush, you are not going to stand in line at the vending machine or service desk.
- The Internet listings are only updated after a significant delay.
- Train conductors are “masters at being impossible to find”, according to Rikus Spithorst of travellers association ‘Voor Beter OV’ (‘for better public transport’). (Doesn’t that make train conductors hobbits?)
Basically this means that you either show up five minutes early for your daily commute to double check you are actually checked in or you pay a tax in the form of fines every time you fail to check in for whatever reason.
What bothers me is that in the case of a conflict between a traveller and Dutch Rail (and only the OV Chipkaart in place) travellers now have to rely completely on the antagonistic party to provide them with the proof that they have in fact travelled legally. Travelling without a valid ticket is a criminal offence, so why would the state make rules that make it practically impossible for a suspect to defend their innocence?
Tags: courts, crime, Dutch Rail, OV Chipkaart, privacy
If you have the chance, visit the Press Museum in Amsterdam to view Danielle van Zadelhoff’s photos.
An exhibition of her work will be held there one week only, from 23 October to 29 October. If that window is a little bit too narrow for you, don’t despair. Van Zadelhoff regularly posts her photos to her Facebook account.
Danielle van Zadelhoff is a self-taught photographer. She did a short stint at a photography school, but according to Fotografie magazine (PDF here) her teachers thought she was so good, there wasn’t much they could teach her. In 2006 she and her husband bought a mansion called Spokenhof (lit. ‘garden of ghosts’) in Boechout, Belgium, a renaissance castle that doubles as a studio for her renaissance-like portraits.
Tags: Belgium, castles, Danielle van Zadelhoff